Shit’s real, Housewives. My youngest children, twins Buzz and Kaelyn are at school. They entered Kindergarten, this week, Monday 15th August. And now I have to embark on a new career path. For my own sanity you know? I need a new mission statement for my life. We’re all through the preschool years. It’s been crazy! You spend so long, willing them to grow up so you have ‘free time’. Then if you’re like me, the first time they’re all out of the house, perversely, you’re left bereft as fuck.

I had a taste of this six months ago when everyone was at school or preschool. I felt strangely lonely. So one thing led to another and as if we didn’t have enough Crazy in the mix, I introduced some more:

I adopted a dog. A happy go lucky six month old puppy called Stilts.

Photo to be posted.

Then of course I had all this extra work with crate training our new household addition. More cleaning and washing. More love in the mix but more tiredness. So I did the obvious.

I yelled at my husband about how I was overworked and I was NOT going through another year of abject slavery. Then  I adopted an Au Pair.

Philip from Osterstedt Germany.

Photo to be posted.

Philip joined us end of July for a year to help kiddy wrangle and be my driver. So we’re getting to know each other and having some laughs about the differences in cultures, German, Kiwi, American.

First, heck out that link¬†to the town Philip grew up in!¬†That is one barren Wikipedia entry! So one night, Philip was telling us how he lived in a village. I’m like “so did I man!”. I grew up in small town New Zealand! And he’s like. “No I’m serious! So I google Osterstedt. It has a coat of arms and a population of 700! And nothing else! No photos, no content. He’s absolutely bang on! It’s a village. No shops, nothing! End of the Line!

 

72px-Osterstedt_Wappen

To compare, I google the village I grew up in: Eltham, Taranaki, New Zealand. Population 2010. But there are photos. And eleven famous people. And it has the dubious distiction of having the first tarsealed roads in the country.

I think Philip is a little jealous at this point. So, we’re like, “no way man. Look at the positive side. You’re now the most famous person from Osterstedt! You left the village and are now meeting more people than you could ever have imagined!

I feel struck by the responsibility of it all. It’s like when you save someones life then you’re responsible to them forever! We saved Philip from Osterstedt POP 700!

I’m all out of adoption options. We’re a full house. Five kids. One dog an Au Pair and two harassed parents finding every opportunity to sneak away because all of a sudden we fancy each other like mad. Again.

That’s the sick thing about having kids. You have sex to have them and that’s the last time you have sex, because it right buggers up your desire to have sex. In case you’re new to this, this is the exact sequence of events:

You have sex which results in Baaby. Sometimes this is even planned. Some weeks later you have sex again to prove you still can. Then you stop having sex. Your partner starts to look like Peter Jackson at a union meeting and you can’t imagine ever finding that shit attractive.

Instead, you read Fifty Shades of Gray and buy the most innocuous sex toy ever, which only ever gets used for leaving in the candy basket at the door at Halloween while you go Trick or Treating in nice neighborhoods that don’t have sickos that leave vibrators in the candy. That’s how pissed off you are at being a parent.

What an evil trick of the universe. Once a regular, enjoyable pastime; once kids come along; sex is neglected and ignored.

As for the old adage, use it or lose it, that’s anxiety provoking. I hate shit lying around unused. It makes one unsettled and grumpy. ¬†Whether it’s part of the house or apart of your body. It’s just wrong.

Fortunately, as soon as the youngest is old enough to play with lighters the drive comes back. You find you can get intimate again with your beloved other half. Right up until the dog ruins the moment and pisses on the carpet.

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Club owner devastated by Orlando shooting at Pulse

Barbara Poma set up Pulse in tribute to her brother John, who died of complications from HIV infection  in 1991.
John told Barbara before he died, that more than anything; he wanted to set up a place for the gay community to hang out. A place where people could freely be themselves; a venue free of hatred, bigotism and intolerance.
John held the vision of setting up such a venue to the last and in his last moments, he spoke the words: “My Pulse”. Following his death, Barbara set up the nightclub Pulse, in Orlando, Florida, in dedication to her brother’s last heartbeats with business partner Ron Legler. It became a resounding success for over a decade and a half. A safe place for the LGBT community and Dreamers and Seekers¬†from communities around the US and indeed, worldwide.

Did you ever read Enid Blyton books? As a child, I devoured Enid Blyton. I believed in brownies, fairies, speaking cats and the ability to fly in your dreams. The experience of flying to strange lands with friends and companions and gain experiences in lands that could only be accessed by climbing a tall tree in a magical forest or trusting your faith to bewitched furniture.

I found similar trusting souls in venues such as Pulse over the decades. I’m speaking to a small cohort of readers here but if you were on the club scene in Wellington, New Zealand- circa 1993, you were privy to a similar hip scene that could be found in the edgiest communities in Europe or the States. Venues such as Barney’s or¬†Ecstasy Plus.
http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/wellington-nightclubs-in-the-1980s
You’d go clubbing and hang out with people who would suspend disbelief alongside you.¬†It was the best of times and it was the best of times.
And there was no imaginable scenario where your family, friends and acquaintances would be held hostage by a deranged gunman in a sanctuary set up by a fellow dreamer.

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Me too. Just a little. Can’t seem to shut up the infernal noise in my head. I may not know all the answers yet but, fellow housewives, I do know the problem:

How to dampen the overtly negative thoughts? Or the less than helpful narrative that is the jukebox of the mind. Mine runs along the lines of: “Are we having fun yet”? Following this thought, I feel really tired as I’ve got a day of work in front of me. Mostly housework. And then I ¬†sabotage my thinking further by checking social media; “Look at everybody¬†else having fun and being successful or having a party. Wankers”! Then I feel vaguely dissatisfied and sapped of all motivation to breathe, basically.

Let alone throw myself joyfully into cleaning toilets.

You may have the combo deal. As the working parent with work and home life and more arenas for your thinking to take a dive. Bad commute. Bad manager. “Everyone else is getting ahead faster. Wankers”!

It’s all the same. Worrying about shit you can’t change. Or if you can, any change is glacial.

The thinking is capricious at best even if I’ve started ahead of the game. Even if I have woken up of a morning not feeling like shit; I’ll be sitting feeling seven shades of happy not feeling crappy, drinking my tea and all ¬†of a sudden with absolutely NO warning, and right out of the blue, a thought might pop into my head and knock me off course. ¬†For example: “What if I’ve got: [insert incredibly rare and fast moving and invariably fatal disease like cancer and Alzheimer’s rolled together.]

I’m¬†a hypochondriac. I was convinced I had leprosy by the age of eight. Moles drive me crazy.

Where does this come from?! From whence does our thinking originate? There is no foundation to worry. I have no reason to suspect anything is physically awry. This is where I have to employ a sense of perspective. And put my thoughts into proportion. I have to change the narrative to get my head back in the game.

I reflect that I have these irrational worries despite having just passed the ten year anniversary of having  cheated death. 

Ten years ago, I survived a massive stroke that looked like it was going to finish me off. The sequence of events was as follows:

Me. I’m pregnant and at home with a toddler, I get a massive headache one weekend afternoon. Basically I then vomit on myself and pass out while hubby calls 911. In New Zealand it’s 111. (We also drive on the other side of the road. Our pies are made out of meat rather than being made from sweet shit unlike in the States where they are stuffed ¬†full of pumpkin, nuts and cranberries. Squirrel fare. Meat pies are¬†secret of our sporting triumphs, particularly our success in fielding the greatest rugby team in the world:

OMG. yum.

The pies are good too.

I guess that makes  meat pies a national dessert?

It’s all good. (Builds muscle)

Anyhoo. An ambulance arrives and I’m kept breathing¬†by the paramedics while the ambo guns it with the lights and sirens. At the ER a cat scan confirms I am suffering a ¬†intracranial hemorrhage or, a stroke. The fast response team had me at a GCS3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale.

BTW, the scale goes from nine down to 3 then drops off to “Dead”.

Not a lot of hope.

The neurosurgeon tells my husband in the waiting room that he and his team were going in but the chances of me coming out were slim or f*ck all. ¬†I know right? I could have been one of those sob stories the MSM like to plaster all over the front pages and pass off as news. Being eighteen weeks pregnant, the potential for newsworthy tragedy was huge. ¬†At least these days. A decade ago when actual journalism was more commonplace than pages of sob stories taken from social media, it wouldn’t have registered. You just got hard and got on with it.

So. Everybody is delighted that I don’t die in the process of having my skull opened and blood and brain tissue removed. I wake up nine hours later not a vegetable and I’m informed I’ve had a stroke. At this point I discover I have¬†lost all movement and feeling on my left. But I have essentially come back from the brink.

So if I were sitting at a poker tale with Death. I’d be all like: “Death you suck . I win, you lose. Na nah nah nah nah!”

Death looks smug: ” You just wait!”

If I take a different perspective and catch and then change my negative thoughts, every day is a gift. None of us know what is around the corner. I’ve been given an extra decade and counting¬†but the same things that troubled me back then still affect my thinking these days. If I let them.

Acceptance and maintaining perspective are the keys to  taking control of your thinking.

Before I had a stroke I used to take for granted my sense of being in the world. I used to assume I couldn’t change my thinking. The jukebox of the mind was only escapable briefly when lost in a moment. Or booze or food.

A little bit of brain damage changes ones perspective on this matter. For the period of time immediately following the stroke,¬†I used to accept that feeling really, really uncomfortable was normal. I would hang on by my fingernails to get through every day. The narrative in my head and my sense of being wasn’t just negative, it was both detached and flat out cuckoo! Mostly it was invisible to other folks who would say “I never would have guessed (I had a stroke)!” Because I wasn’t hanging off the ceiling and I could conduct conversations and make the appropriate responses. But I actually was hanging off the ceiling. In my mind.
You can’t have a trauma to the brain and not have some dark days. My days weren’t dark insomuch as completely, utterly detached:

Enlightenment’s Evil Twin.

Every waking moment was an exercise in acceptance and maintaining perspective. I could explain to people that I couldn’t recognize familiar faces but I couldn’t explain to anyone that I couldn’t recognize emotions. For months, the only feeling I had was¬†deja vu and it was with me from dawn to dusk.

Days went on and my mind settled down. I went back to good old stinking, normal thinking. My thinking and instincts gave me my sense of being rather than the inverse where I was experiencing a state of not-being. I’d experienced a complete loss of ego perhaps.

I attribute my recovery both to the natural healing powers of the brain that are so much more extraordinary than are given credit for and there only being room in my mind for acceptance and mindful perspective.

Recently it occurred to me that if I can travel the path from detachment to reality then I could do the reverse at will. Remain detached and travel through life.

Which is when the story really gets interesting.

Actually it doesn’t. I’m a housewife. Life is predictable. Housework and when I can, I grab time for these kitchen sink musings.

 

 

 

 

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Recognizing that feeling Crap is normal right from the moment your feet hit the floor and that also a lot of other humans also suffer from the Human Condition and we’re all in the same Situation of: [“Oh Shit. It appears, I’m a thinking, feeling being. I have a limited amount of knowledge of my surroundings. In the meantime I’ll be the best higher level Chimp I can be while I wait until someone figures out what’s beyond the blue ceiling” and “Must do best to avoid pain”!] {!} is important to mastering the art of contentment. (That sentence was possibly too long)

Because then you can 1: put your level of distress into proportion. And 2: By practicing feeling good, even though you feel like excrement you can then master the zen-like air of appearing to have it all together in front of all the other Chimps in your life even if you haven’t got it together because you’re [polishing off nightly; a tub of ice-cream, bottle of wine, an entire series of Breaking Bad; insert coping mechanism of choice that bollocks up your sleep cycle.]

Whenever you find yourself a little antsy, instead of meditating, just practice ‘not feeling like shit’ which is completely possible. It is entirely possible to not feel like shit in most situations, excepting of course when you’re too sick to eat or poop. Not being able to successfully poop registers on the highest personal level of hell.

And excepting in times of War. War sucks. Collective cultural hell. Free choice, huh? Was God like ” hmmm. Do I go for Thor, as a keeper or, for Free Choice? “No”! That mad f*cker Thor is effective but possibly might not be best example in this case. These apes are too warlike. <God scratches chin> “I know, I’ll go for a combo deal. Free Choice and Jesus to set a good example. They’ll work it out eventually”. <Takes a bow>

I attained level two or greater, ¬†‘Not feeling Crap’, recently by deciding to only worry one day in three. As per that whole “live in today”, mindful movement crap spearheaded by the Squirrel Monk¬†¬†Eckhart Tolle. Don’t you just love how he’s melded mindfulness with higher level ¬†cuteness and lonesomeness; and he also reminds me of the comforting feeling I get when I look at a Squirrel. Not too mention his meme is now everywhere. Just like Squirrels are.

Anyhoo. Our family went on a trip to New Zealand through Feb and March. I know right? How did we get let out of the school district for so long? That my friends is a whole another story. Watch this space.

We flew from SFO on a Saturday. We landed on Monday morning. I’d forgotten how astonishingly beautiful New Zealand is but that is not the point. I realised pretty quickly the mental benefits of jumping forward a day. All my problems I’d left behind in yesterday or Sunday in the States. They’d not catch up with me. And I was able to not worry about any matters from home. Well apart from when I received a text one day at 5am NZ time from my housekeeper saying she’d locked herself in the mudroom with the keys in the kitchen. S’kay. She’s pretty resourceful and got herself out.

Likewise when we returned. I’d left all our baggage of the previous month in the past. Our luggage made it though. Which is unreal considering we were on and off planes eight times in thirty days. We crossed ten time zones all up. Jet lag is a bitch. But I now make it a practice of trying to defer any worries to yesterday by putting it in my mental ‘Tomorrow’ and not worrying about it.

Enlightened Housewife. Ladling out the advice and speaking my mind since 2012. When I emigrated to America and had to fit in. Before that I was a pussy.

Enlightened Housewife.
Ladling out the advice and speaking my mind since 2012. When I emigrated to America and had to fit in.
Before that I was a pussy.

We all only have today. Theoretically we’ve got yesterday and tomorrow but that is too much shit for anyone’s plate. I mean. I mean three days of Feeling Bad? Do yourself a favor and drop two days off by not not worrying about what happened yesterday and what might happen tomorrow. If you can.

If you can’t: Icecream.

Big tub.

 

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I came across a good quote recently about marriage being about weathering the good times and the bad times. Which is fantastic and lets one off the hook tremendously. Sets a pretty low bar for most couples. If this approach was employed in relationships it would eliminate most fights and expectations that the other party would morph into the best version of themselves. An unselfish sex-god and fart or nag free version of themselves. And if marriage can be rendered this pragmatically , then life can be simplified by viewing it as an exercise in mastering: Not Feeling like Shit.

I know right? It’s emotional Hunger Games out there. Actually in there. In that intricately wired ¬†lump of jelly perched atop your shoulders. A game without obvious rules where your bad emotions are roaming around armed to the hilt ready to take out all your good emotions.

I’m entirely convinced there are more negative emotions than good emotions. I will research this at some stage. Until then I rely on my observations. And my opinion. You can have nothing else but you can still have your opinion and own it loudly and at length. ¬†This is the secret of success to the long running Seinfeld show. ¬†A bunch of freaks with nothing but their opinions. And Friends. Fantastic viewing until they ran out of controversy and started to get Stuff. And relationships. All of a sudden Boriing! and the shark is well and truly jumped.

Back to mastering “not feeling like shit”. It helps to¬†start with the premise that our feelings are wholly illogical.¬†It’s entirely possible to feel like shit in the good times and euphoric during disaster. Totally counter-intuitive.

And regular old life is the most confusing of all. Generally you start your day not feeling like crap. Unless you’ve recently experienced grief or significant loss or maybe had a recent breakthrough with your counselor, therapist, sponsor or life coach or dealer. Or you’re merely perplexed and flummoxed by the lack of rules to the point of desperation. The exclusions for starting your day feeling like “not crap”, are endless and experienced by the majority¬†of people¬†a good portion¬†of the time! We can only conclude the majority of humans past puberty are feeling godawful right from the get go most of the time!

Bad mental health is the new normal! But you’re not alone. This how cultures hold together. Misery loves company. This is also how some marriages hold together. Some of the most successful marriages, if success is measured by overcoming the ever present urge to murder one’s spouse for his insert, [annoying inability to take care of his shit; bad habit, lack of appreciation for all that you do]

By and large we’re never honest about our Shit with anyone apart from our life partner. Or partners if that’s your thing. We carry on shining our shit for Facebook and we pretends all’s well.

But it’s unnerving. Ever noticed how you feel after a good lengthy consumption of all the shit on your Newsfeed? Try it. Scroll and read when you’re not under the influence of anything. Even coffee. So you can really gauge how you feel. And so you’re less likely to react. Sometimes you come away feeling unsettled and vaguely soiled. And that my friends is because whatever goes said, there is an awful lot that is unsaid. Unless you’re a guy and you just read the dirty jokes.

And¬†if life hasn’t knocked you before your feet hit the floor of a morning; there’s¬†hormones:¬†The soupy mix of hormones that our brains are awash in has a huge say in our mood and attitude. And they don’t care how good we feel. Evolution has zero regard for our Feewings. Hormones¬†just want to influence our behavior so we reproduce. Hormones are not there to make you feel good. Their purpose is to get you physically ready to have kids. Despite whether or not you are mentally and emotionally ready to have kids.

Is anybody ever? There are just greater and lesser stages of “not-readiness.” And¬†hormones always beat reason every single time. ¬†“Wham, bam. Thank you Ma’am!” And ¬†Thank you Dean Martin for putting it in a song and polishing the turd of the concept that is “true love”.

It may feel like love at first sight, but through every step of the courtship it’s an evaluation of your potential as a genetic donor or bearer of sprogs. Using essentially your nose! We’re a logical rational super species with a¬†greater or lesser¬†comprehension of statistics and we still sniff out our life partners. WTF? Pheromones I think they’re called. Hormones on ecstasy. And once again, reason is out the window.

Naturally once the kids have arrived you have many more reasons to feel like crap on awakening. Your sleep routine is buggered and so is your sex life. Until the kids are totally off your dime and life insurance policies at the age of twenty five.

Yes hormones are a very potent and ever present influence. At least until your forties when they start to dial back and this results in men spending a lot of time on golf courses and/or proving their sporting, fishing, hunting ¬†prowess. Women start thinking less about how they want to be seen as successful and more time being who we are, not how others want us to be. It’s more important to be true to ourselves and not someone else’s bullshit rules with all due respect to their no doubt honest intentions. This does start defining ones circle of friendship especially when we start giving our opinions loudly at dinner parties. And it doesn’t affect how we feel when we wake up the next day. Because there’s a lot of reasons to wake up feeling shit but worrying about someone else’s opinion shouldn’t be one of them.

Enlightened Housewife. Asking the hard questions since 2001. Except when I was pregnant and my brain was mush.

Enlightened Housewife. Asking the hard questions since 2001. Except when I was pregnant and my brain was mush.

Basically you got it made if you woke up feeling level. That there folks is the holy grail of success. That’s as close to enlightenment as any overthinking member of a super-species is ever likely to come.

 

 

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I just don’t know what my husband does all day. He leaves the house just as I go to take the kids to school. The worst possible time to depart. If he lingered longer he’d be able to watch the twins (5 in Feb) while I dropped over the other three. Two, to¬†Erstwhile Elementary and our oldest son to Flintstone Valley Middle School. (Apt nomenclature but not their real titles.)

We live in¬†Aspirational California in a good school district. Here it’s more a case of drone-parenting than helicopter parenting. Parents don’t hover so much as parent via e-commerce these days. The latest toy delivered direct to your door! We have seven day a week postal¬†delivery. Amazon will in the not to far distant future¬†drone goods to our door. Parents drop¬†money at will in cherished offsprings’ paypal accounts to keep them entertained. Our two oldest have paypal accounts which we credit with their pocket money. When they get low, they chorus, “Can I have a dollar in my Paypal account Dad”?

If my husband left for work earlier he wouldn’t be able to criticize my childcare decisions of letting my 4th Grader (play Mineraft) watch the twins, while I drive my eldest son¬†to school. Rather than being useful, Hubby is generally¬†underfoot at the most rushed part of the morning routine and often gives me the side-eye while I yell ask rhetorical questions. “Why didn’t you get up when first asked”? “Why didn’t you do your homework last night”? All the while I am brandishing a hairbrush at the kids, impotently. And at this thought, I return the unfavorable glances to hubby.¬†All the stress in my life AKA, Parenthood is a direct result of the lack of said impotency. It’s true. Bald men have more kids. And back in the day, no-one told me to run from the light (reflected by a shiny bald pate).
I’m also simmering over the attention to detail over hubby’s morning routine. Unbelievable. He’s worked out, meditated, had a phone meeting, has another on the way to catch BART into san Francisco. And darned if he hasn’t made himself a coffee in a take-out cup to go. How cute.

A great coffee machine for the home barista!

A great coffee machine for the home barista!

Whereas I, I! got up two hours before hubby and I’m nowhere as prepared for the day. I am ashamed to say I slept in my clothes. ¬†PyjamaGate?

  • Uk Headmistress Kate Chisholm sparked a furor recently after issuing a letter hightlighting the increased incidence of parents escorting (nobby Brit term for dropping the brats to school) in pyjamas. And slippers. Classsy! Darned sloppy Gen X of which I am a member. It’s all Kurt Cobain‘s fault. On news of his untimely demise at the age of 27,¬†¬†a cohort of Gen X decided it was a good idea to wear underwear as outerwear in our college years. It was the era of Grunge. Both the music, and the fashion reflected a tilt to apathy and underachievement. Naturally we are reclaiming this¬†trend in our parenting years. Kate Chisholm can p*ss off. Sometimes we don’t even wear underwear. Panties aren’t flattering after the age of 27. Whereas Commando ALWAYS rocks comfort with the bonus of the invisible panty line! And with mood lighting and no pants we’re more confident than any 20 year old!
  • Possibly our generation never grew up. We embraced responsibility, had children, but still grapple with being censored for our fashion choices by Conservative authority. To hell with that!
  • We’re still alive!


Forget pyjamas. My kids may have slept in their clothes. I try not to think about this possibility. Hubby does the evening shift so if the kids bound out of the bedroom in the morning fully dressed I try not to recall what they wore yesterday. This way I never have to confront the possibility they may have slept in their clothes. ¬†I am deeply suspicious that I never have pyjamas in the laundry but I don’t dwell on this. they look great folded away in the closet. that’s all that counts.

I think to myself, I’ll do the school drop off and come back for a leisurely shower. Maybe ¬†even a bath. Who am I kidding?

I’ll run a wash cloth over and change from¬†my slept-in black leggings to recently washed black leggings. And then I’ll be busy all day combining housework, with social media (it’s important), with my passion (writing) with growing a stream of passive income. Again,¬†important. “A women must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”, Virginia Woolf.

And men are unreliable. I just don’t know what my husband does all day. I know I’m busy. It’s totally obvious to my husband on his return that I’ve been busy all day. For one, the house is a mess and I haven’t had enough time to shower, Even!¬†But Hubby? He leaves nonchalantly in the mid-morning and returns after I’ve done a full day of work, and fed the kids innumerable times before declaring the kitchen closed. My husband¬†returns home without so much of a brace of rabbits and nary¬†a plucked pheasant in sight. There’s no shit on his Italian shoes. No singe marks on his suit or any evidence he’s fought with the elements to support his family of seven.

What does he do all day!

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I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. What a waste of time! Where did the concept of New Year’s resolutions spring from? This archaic tradition is totally counterproductive given our perverse and fallen human nature. And a waste of effort. We all know that no matter how infrequently we attend church that Jesus loves us and He loves us regardless of what weight we tip the scales at.

He loves us even if we have a tendency to brood or Rage Quit at large family gatherings.

Furthermore, Jesus can’t see your bad habits for the light that shines from you, even on the occasions¬†you’re side eying bad mannered soccer Moms at the annual Nordstrom sales; whilst simultaneously¬†seeking to get the advantage and surreptitiously stepping on the feet of their ill mannered brats with the stiletto heel of your Jimmy Choos from last year’s sales.

The light that still shines forth whilst Soccer Nan cops a blow to the elbow from your Valentino handbag. Another Ghost from Christmas Past. The handbag that is, not Nan who’s corporeality you have no reason to doubt as she just got physical by kicking your ankles with her Cole Haan riding boots,whilst the eight year old daughter pulls a bait and switch by pretending to choke or vomit, (who cares), before¬†circling around everyone’s concern to snatch the last coveted, discounted Burberry diaper bag. And then the insufferable¬†bairn has the nerve to wink at you. The apple doesn’t fall far from that poorly botoxed tree given the smug look of triumph on Soccer Mom’s face. ¬†Only 365 days to the next post Christmas Consumption fest, folks.

Comfortingly, we all know that even if Jesus isn’t partial; God loves fools and drunks. It’s hard to figure out whether the Father or the Son got the hospital pass. ¬†Jesus gets haters; God the inebriates and politicians.

I think that about covers all bases.

Useless New Year’s Resolutions:

Give up: <Insert here>There is nothing like swearing off something to make you want it right that minute. Or if you get rid of said substance it will manifest itself elsewhere. You have to have a game plan to live well or the fear of the proverbial in you and/or the fear of sitting through another well meaning but tasteless intervention. Cold turkey works the best but be aware you may be in for addiction Whack-a-mole. Or balance your bad habits to cancel them out. Like opposite phase sine waves. Trust me.

Behave better: be a better <Mom, daughter, friend, coworker>, or stop < said bad behaviour> ie biting nails or sneaking an illicit cig, drink, cease compulsive peanut butter cup consumption or other late night self-sabotaging binge. Again. Requires more will power than you or I will ever have to be a better human.

Cease Lusting¬†<after other people; coveting their possessions or whatevs> entirely. Besides which it’s flattering for the recipient getting the glad eye after a certain age. Women from the age of 35 before which it’s merely unnerving and Men from the age of 80 before which they’re confident it’s given they’re young and hot stuff and assume everyones’s perving at them. Sean Connery has a lot to answer for, for this phenomenon.

Flirt but don’t get physical. As a rule it is creepy copping a feel in many circumstances. Not all. It depends on the coppee’s temperament and how long you have known them. Going in for a chest press after the obligatory ¬†handshake cheek kiss is acceptable. Whether it’s the boobs or pecs you admire go for it.

Human touch generates the feel good hormone oxytocin. This is hormone that plays a strong role in social bonding and is responsible for women breastfeeding their babies until they go to school.

And how badly are we behaving really?

If you can get out of bed in the mornings, are kind to fellow humans and hold down a job and or raise a family and follow the path your previous self chose, you’re probably doing okay. Instead of making self defeating resolutions I choose to look at what has been revealed to me about my life over the previous calendar year. New Year’s Revelations.

Enlightened Housewife.  Ladling out the advice and speaking my mind since 2012. When I emigrated to America and had to fit in.  Before that I was a pussy.

Enlightened Housewife.
Ladling out the advice and speaking my mind since 2012. When I emigrated to America and had to fit in.
Before that I was a pussy.

 

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In my experience, any Enlightened Housewife doesn’t post if she plain has too many children. I have five. That’s either one to five too many depending on your outlook on life or the stage of Motherhood you are at. Also it doesn’t help if you love them dearly and couldn’t do without them.¬†Don’t worry! I found my way into this situation by a combination of choice and accident and one day I’ll find my way out again! They’ll all be at school eventually. I find this hard to believe but am comforted that there are laws in place to ensure this is a likelihood.

Anyhoo. the lamest way you can start a blog post, is, “sooo.. folks it’s been a while.” Actually I’ll just default start my posts this way henceforth. Life seems to quite often get in the way of writing. And one trouble is with the writing is that once you’ve garnered an audience, no matter how microcosmal ( I made that word up, (definition to follow) ¬†is that you owe your readers an explanation. No matter how corny and mealy mouthed this explanation sounds. I use the following analogy: ¬†Imagine you catch a tour bus. You’ve made a choice to go on a journey and it may be thrilling or it may be lame but it will always have a beginning, a middle and a return to real life, or an end.

And then wouldn’t it be puzzling and annoying if the bus-driver stopped at a non-scheduled destination, announced a pee stop and then stood there chain smoking until the passengers realized the driver wasn’t going to go anywhere for a while, if not months. After a few minutes of one’s life thinking “WTF?” you and all the other passengers realize: A. the journey is over for now and B. there is a nice cosy pub within walking distance and the combo of music and Irish stew makes for a compelling destination.

So, blogging is like a bus journey but it never ends. And I last posted in July and then I lamely never came back to it. Analogy ended.

Something that irks me about the writing business is all the young smart arse writers who become a resounding success but never take the readers on the journey to publication and resounding success. Take my fellow Kiwi Eleanor Catton. Instead of plugging away at the biz for twenty years or so and gradually making a name for herself, she ups and writes a book in one day set in Nowhere’s-ville New Zealand (not part of Australia BTW). And she wins the 2013 Man ¬†Booker Prize. ¬†Who does that?

Oh she’s a Millennial. That explains it. They get it in the right order. Success then Brats.

I haven’t read Catton’s book yet. Reading ‘The Luminaries’ is a decision not to take lightly. By virtue of it’s very size it falls into a category of book called ‘Door-stoppers’. Perfect for holding the door fast or throwing at a drunk uncle on Christmas Day. However you actually have to have time or be pushed into it by the fates to embark on the journey of reading an¬†epistle of biblical proportions. Or the wont to make a bargain with it’s placement on your reading list. As in. “I’ll read ‘The Luminaries’, when author Eleanor Catton starts sporting a pastel jumpsuit or a bad perm.”

I doubt that will happen soon folks. She looks fairly serious. Maybe a tattoo.

Eleanor Catton

Eleanor Catton

Thankfully Thanksgiving is over. It was wonderful. A houseful of guests and tradition. Menu to follow.

The day after Thanksgiving I got a much needed break from my household. I call our house and surrounds, ‘The Compound’. I have it similar to Shelly Miscavige the Scientology wife who was swapped out of the public eye to “a small compound above LA”:

Shelly Miscavige

Shelly and I have totally so much in common. Not the least being that we haven’t been seen in the public eye since 2005. That coincides with when my oldest son was a year old. It’s time to get with the program so gleefully, albeit not without reservation I took the four hour hop (United Airlines) to go ahead two hours in time and back centuries to atmospheric New Orleans.

In the interests of preventing a re-occurrence of scurvy in the household I must stop here and attend to the nutritional needs of the household. I will leave you with this:

Defn: Microcosmal: As in, Small but important. Origination: When one son spotted another son going about his day without pants on and gleefully yelled out : “Your penis is so microcosmal”!

 

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In my experience, any enlightened housewife doesn’t blog post regularly if she is (A) Worried about her kids. (B) Helicopter parenting. Or (C) Just Plain Pissed Off.

I do, I have to say I spend some time being,’Just Plain Pissed Off’. Usually at institutions more so than people: Schools. School boards. Political bodies that don’t align with my current political views. ¬†When my children and others are hurt or treated unfairly by society at large, Momma Bear comes out of lurkdom. At the barest whiff of injustice.¬†It’s a useful instinct in this respect; ensuring the well-being of your own children and others in the same herd.

But Anger, by and large, is not a productive emotion. ¬†The¬†Buddha says: “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”

I cordially disagree. In these days of digital media, it’s more a case of:

“You will not be punished for your anger and in fact you will be able to rant angrily and candidly into the early hours of the morning on obscure blogs with other like minded souls.”

Personally I can’t see how being angry hurts in the short term. ¬†I don’t know if I’d be the same person had I not wasted all those hours being silently teed off and fuming! For example, in the workplace back in the day; “Who do they think they are to be treating me this way!” ¬†Why don’t they see my potential greatness!”

And, inevitably into the fray, rock Anger’s cousins, Resentment and Judgement! Goody!

It’s like a party! With invisible friends who will stay as long as you want them too!

It’s got to be fun! Who would harbor these emotions if there wasn’t some fulfillment to be had in the process?

Surely Anger is the ultimate wind up toy for adults: Wind Anger up for endless hours of fun and best of all no-one can see it but you!

Excepting the sorry pricks who over serve themselves on a long haul flight and lose it at the cabin crew or a fellow traveler. That’s pretty visible.

Never mix Anger and alcohol. It hurts you and your chances of getting home or more importantly, getting lucky.

After a while, all negative emotion becomes unproductive and you inevitably become bogged down in circular thinking. I find I can’t write when I’m pissed off so I eventually drop Anger.

I drop Anger like I did the Dickhead¬†who got his Mother to ask me out for him in 10th Grade. Initially I was like, “Well everything’s gotta start somewhere.” But I lost faith and the relationship ended when he delegated to his friends the job of writing me a Valentines Day card. It was a no-brainer: Goodbye Loser!

Enlightened Housewife.  Ladling out the advice and speaking my mind since 2012. When I emigrated to America and had to fit in.  Before that I was a pussy.

Enlightened Housewife.
Ladling out the advice and speaking my mind since 2012. When I emigrated to America and had to fit in.
Before that I was a pussy.

So, recently it’s been option (B) or Helicopter Parenting that’s keeping me from the keyboard. In May and June I spent countless hours weekly, driving three children around to dance lessons, culminating with a professional production where I spent a total of 19 hours over one weekend in June at a theatre in Alameda. Three dancers. Six outfits and four performances. It’s a special kind of madness being a Dance Mom.

And now dance is over, it’s Summer swim season. Daily practices and meets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We are part of the swim team at our Country Club.

I wasn’t overly familiar with the concept of a Country Club before we emigrated to California from New Zealand. I’d once seen a quaint reference to Country Club folk in an old Archie, Betty and Veronica Comic Book.

But nothing prepared us for the phenomenon of entire sports facilities including golf courses (one or more), tennis courts (floodlit to allow twilight matches) and of course the mandatory Olympic sized swimming pool. These facilities are attached to a clubhouse with full day dining and event facilities with a dress code so patrons are encouraged to maintain an exemplary level of conduct and presentation. The club is usually surrounded by neighborhoods of tasteful homes. Houses inhabited by lovely folks. Some of whom do spend an inordinate amount of time comparing their house values to those in other Country Clubs. But the Moms do a lot of volunteering and do their best to hide their painkillers and stimulants from their offspring in order to suppress the adolescent market for such contraband. Lord love us.

Yesterday we swam at a neighboring Country Club. We take swim seriously in Northern California, so all are required on board early. Warm ups start at 7.00am Most parents work jobs and are required to check in by 7.45am. All swimmers by 8.30am. I aim to leave by 7.40am as two of our sons are in the first four races. We inevitably leave for the 20 minute drive at 8.15am. We arrive promptly at 8.45 to hear the Star Spangled Banner following the team cheer.¬†I’m late and I’m panicking as I try to get my boys to their start positions for the 6 and under and 7-8 yr old mixed medleys. I’m gently admonished by another parent clerking the kids in to get ¬†there earlier next time as they’ve been looking for my boys for twenty minutes. I ¬†totally understand and in the spirit of solidarity, wish she could have witnessed my pissed off demeanor during the trip over. For the entire twenty minute drive I radiated disapproval at the other adult family member’s complete inability to get out of bed to ensure a timely departure for the swim meet. Unfortunately my best ‘Cat Butt Face’ impression was completely lost on my husband.

I’m angry and he’s thinking about when he might get to eat! Talk about an exercise in futility.

 

SwimTeam4

The whole process requires a lot of emotional investment. Moms are generally up early (5.30am start for me) packing the car with towels, goggles seats and tents to ensure the comfort of swimmers and cover from the sun. A picnic basket with baked goods, fruit and beer. Food will be available for purchase but at a premium. No-one wants their pockets picked  by their own Country Club, let alone being overcharged by another.

Later in the day, I ask myself. Why? “What are we here for?” Coming back down the hill from the¬†bar, the dawning realization hits me

We’re all here solely so a bunch of Grown Ass men can spend their Saturday mornings racing their own kids against other parents kids!

 

sWIMTEAM3

 

Men. Given enough time; groups of men will eventually congregate and conspire to build golf links and a swimming pool in the middle of nowhere.

And gain enormous satisfaction racing their own kids against other kids!

 

SwimteAM2

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I’m exhausted. It’s Wednesday morning following one of the big long weekends of the American calender. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Households in this nation go from dinner party to festival and it’s a big ole juggernaut of secular and commercial culture fueling the American economy. To the point where festival cities are an accepted part of the culture. Reno. Las Vegas.

The places you visit when nothings going on and you can’t cope. Nothing’s never going on in these parts, but you know?

Gotta have a backstop.

We hosted on Memorial Day. We planned and pulled off a last minute party to welcome in summer and commemorate the dead American men and women that served in the armed forces. I have to say here, it’s brilliant being a first generation immigrant in this respect. You have emotional and family¬†ties to the mother country and so you tend to¬†gather with other expats and have your traditional day. ¬†And then you do the same for the commemoration day of your new country of residence.

So for New Zealand we commemorated Anzac Day in February by gathering at the Presidio¬†of San Francisco for a service and a barbeque. Three months later it’s time to commemorate those who served in the U.S.A ¬†armed forces.

I’m fairly excitable. So upon having a good time at a Bayou themed party we attended in Mid May, (otherwise known as a swamp bash). I invited those there over for Memorial Day. For a potluck. The Saturday of the long weekend, we’re invited to tailgate to watch the Warriors play the Rockets. So I invite everybody there.

I still want to invite more people but my rational mind tells me I’ve hit the limit.

Eek. I set to and plan what we can feed to 20 adults and kids and not have the sole responsibility of feeding 25 kids and 18 adults fall solely on us. Lots of food to soak up the booze.

A note. Hosts should never drink anything until the food is served. Or keep a glass to hand of whatever’s going that doesn’t trigger the “mystery of the bottomless glass” effect. Something you have a taste aversion to; preferably low alcohol.

Being a responsible host doesn’t mean drinking all the good wine so no-one else has too much. I generally switch to water and watch myself. And if it runs late I’ve learned to pinpoint the exact moment I’ve had too much. I listen to myself and realise that what I’ve just said is just rubbish. A¬†complete story! If founded on reality on some level!

I’m a writer and this is where I go. At this point I correct myself and excuse myself from the conversation. And shortly thereafter the party, to wear it off. Sleep inevitably follows this stage and drunken slumber sucks.

On Memorial Day everyone arrived with a bounty of pre-prepared dishes. And then offered to help in the kitchen. Being the host means you’re constantly kept busy so it’s important to delegate and keep onto it all. I like to work alone in the kitchen if it’s a dish I’m doing for the first time otherwise I have ingredients and instructions ready. And had some of the best conversations with the sisterhood while we busily prepared dishes on Memorial Day. It’s times like these you realise the good fortune of having a network of women you can rely on. Particularly with all my family back in New Zealand. I used to feel sad about leaving my old networks and the bonds of friendship behind but lately I’m knowing there are three or four places in the world I could could turn up and these women would have my back. While our kids play and the men watch the game.

A shout out to all the Moms who prepared food on Memorial Day and especially the Moms of those in the Armed Forces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not that Mother’s Day can be¬†much different from most other days. If you’re like me you’re the first one up because it’s a hard habit to break. This Mother’s Day I was at the gym then ¬†Wholefoods and home by 9am. Then back to bed before everyone wakes for a ‘surprise’ breakfast in bed. And sometimes I have to go back to bed and prompt things moving with a kick in the shins.¬†With a gentle reminder that it is morning.Maybe even mid morning.
My husband is a very nice man but, yup, he’s a Sleeper. When the need to sleep overtakes ,you’d have better luck getting a narcoleptic llama out of bed and going than motivating my husband. However once both of us were well rested we headed off for a very nice afternoon at Martinez; the County Seat of Contra Costa County.

Martinez is the home of baseball great Joe Dimaggio, and the precurser to the Martini with The Martini Story:

Legend has it, during the days of The Gold Rush in 1849 a miner struck it rich and was returning to San Francisco. He pulled up for a celebratory drink at the first large town he came across: Martinez. The champagne he requested was not available so the bartender mixed him (the miner) a drink that the bartender was a Martinez Special”

The miner liked the drink and ordered for the house. After he woke up, some time later, he proceeded on to San Francisco where he immediately went to a prominent bar and ordered a “Martinez Special”. The bartender of course had never heard of the drink and asked the miner how it was made and where he had heard of the drink. The miner said that the drink was made with one part of very dry Sauterne wine and three parts of Gin, stir with ice and finish with an olive and was made in Martinez. The bartender tried the drink himself and liked it and of course had his friends drink it. Over a period of years the name Martinez (try to say it repeatedly) became Martini.

Martinez was one of the oldest Anglo cities before California became a state. It has an eclectic chaarm with a main street full of antique shops and bail bondsmen offices in surrounding streets. There are at least seven buildings listed with the Contra Costa County Register of Historic Places Listings. The former original County Courthouse is now the Contra Costa County Finance Building.

Former County Courthouse now the Contra Costa Finance Building at Martinez

Former County Courthouse now the Contra Costa Finance Building at Martinez

Crotch Watch

The lead up to Mother’s Day 2015 marked the official end of The Great Royal Crotch Watch of our Age. Royalists far and wide, from Great Britain to the Antipodes celebrated the arrival of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge on May 2nd 2015. What a lovely name. Sweet. Sweet but incestous. What else might you expect from the most enmeshed family on the planet.
No nods to Kate’s side of the family. Of Course! Apparently the Middletons ¬†baby-hogged the last one and the birth of the second is a timely reminder that as much as they married for love, they also married for dynastic reasons¬†and their loin fruit was named after Prince William’s Dad; ¬†Grandma Queen Elizabeth and deceased Mom Lady Diana.

The birth was announced and all the Greater Commonwealth breathed a collective sigh of relief. No more minute by minute updates by The Mirror, essentially reworking the angle: “nothing happening”. What were the paparazzi expecting? A tweet announcing the latest heir to the Crown was crowning?

The Grandparents approve: From the Daily Mail:

“We Love Having Another Girl: The Queen gushes over the arrival of her great granddaughter Princess Charlotte while greeting guests ¬†at Buckingham Palace’s first garden party of the season.”

Check out the photo of¬†Prince Charles, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Edward and his wife Countess Sophie looking suspiciously at each other.¬†They are probably attempting to smile grimace at different¬†¬†cameras. Who doesn’t look at that photo and think, somebody should really introduce the House of Windsor to a comprehensive skincare regime?

Countess Sophie is a pretty lady but that neck screams “Microdermabrasion, pronto!”

No seriously; with that pedigree you can sport the visage of a cane toad and it’s of far less importance than who married who eight generations ago.

Totally the opposite of the Annual PTA volunteer luncheons and Spring parties ¬†thrown this week at Californian schools statewide. The usual jeans and sweats will disappear and it’ll be all Nordstrom Rack and designer garb. Score extra points if you’re wearing your own designer line.¬†And in a true ¬†fashion reminiscent of some of us will be dovetailing¬†our microderm and botox regime to coincide. But there is nothing like fresh sea air to provide the requiste glow.

Getting some fresh air at Martinez on Mother's Day 2015

Getting some fresh air at Martinez on Mother’s Day 2015

 

 

 

 

 

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I get in a funk at this time of the year. Spring can be as much about death as well as celebrating new life.

One of our most beautiful established trees. This magnolia blooms for only a few days before spring rains wash off the petals

One of our most beautiful established trees. This magnolia blooms for only a few days before spring rains wash off the petals

It’s worth a reminder that without death we wouldn’t fully experience life. Without loss we wouldn’t appreciate what we have. I am acutely aware of this at this time of the year.

Nine years ago this Spring, I suffered a crippling stroke that left me without sensation and completely paralysed on one side of my body. One minute I was full of life. Literally. I was eighteen weeks pregnant and I had a full and busy  life; I was at home running a business and caring for a toddler.

I was well one minute and in the next moment I was in incredible pain and on the way out of this world.

if it wasn’t for the intervention of an incredibly skilled team of neurosurgeons, four of my children and I wouldn’t be here today. It’s a miracle of modern science that I didn’t die, given I had more or less a complete loss of cardio-respiratory function.

After the stroke I spent sometime in a rehab hospital. Whenever I looked glum, someone in my team would remind me: “Monique! Cheer up! It’s not a funeral.”

“But it could have been, you know!” they’d say. ¬†“Yours!” “By rights, you shouldn’t be here!”

Whenever I¬†grumped about the shitty hospital food, I would get comments about how surprising it was I was even here to both eat and complain; ¬†given my brain and brain-stem had been squeezed beyond repair in a process known as “coning“.

I almost threw up on my Physio the first time she told me about this. ¬†“Coning” describes the process by which¬†your brain and brain-stem are pushed downwards through a whole in your skull by swelling or in my case the pressure of a blood clot.

I was still pretty blue when after three months I was able to walk a short distance without the aid of a wheelchair or walking stick. I still needed the help of a full time nanny as I couldn’t care for my son on my own. A lot of time I was crawling to get around and unable to stand for extend periods of time to prepare meals etc. Even opening the mail was an exhausting business as my brain tired easily.
And then one day my nanny was sick and there was no-one else to look after my twenty month old toddler. That day I set myself up so that everything for the day was within reach and did a very basic job of looking after my son.

He was just so happy that Mommy was well enough to play again.

A month later I gave birth by c-section to my second child; I’d been pregnant with him at the time of the stroke.

I declined the offer of a wheelchair and walked into the operating theater; the proudest woman alive.

Life got better after that. I was able to appreciate what I had.

I hated that I limped but I loved that my legs gave me enough strength to care for my babies. I hated that I had lost my independence and couldn’t drive but I enjoyed chatting with the taxi drivers that transported me and my children around.

I was and am proud; I hated having help but I was reassured and renewed by¬†the team of helpers and carers I used to call “The Cheerleaders.”
I am vain and hated being physically compromised but I loved attaining the lofty goals that life had set for me: Learning to walk again. Recovering my eyesight. Looking after my children full time.

Being able to drive again.Having more children. Getting more mobile and the ability  to move around quickly.

As a male nurse said in the first few days when he assured me I would indeed walk, run and get control of my life again: “You may not ever be 100% of what you were, Monique, but the definition of a successful organism is one that is able to fight, fuck or flee!” “You’ll get there!”

Or as my Neurosurgeon said when he visited me in neonates after my twins were born. He congratulated me on my recovery and the birth of my twins. In his sexy Russian accent he declared: “Zis! Zis is what life is all about!”
“Congra tula tions¬†Mama!”

Life, Love, Loss:

Life, love and loss. You can’t have the first without the last. And recently and painfully I lost a cat. This time last week our ginger tom Blaster was outwardly well. He was eating, peeing and winding around our ankles and being generally affectionate. There was no sign anything was wrong. Monday I noticed he was peeing a lot in his litter tray. ¬†But he never had an accident and didn’t seem thirstier than usual. He was fine until I¬†noticed something was wrong Tuesday night. He came inside that night and I noticed his fur was standing out from his skin and he looked unhappy. I settled him in my sons’s bedroom. In the night I opened the door to check he was still inside. Usually he comes running. He didn’t and I couldn’t see him. I assumed he was outside and looked around and called for him for two hours in the middle of the night like The Crazy¬†Cat Lady.

At 6.30am I checked my sons’ room again. And there he was¬†lying prone in his litter tray. Hoping like hope nothing was seriously wrong, I tried to make him comfortable. I booked him into the vet first thing Wednesday morning. The vet was very reassuring. She diagnosed him with a bladder infection and outlined a treatment program for him. I talked to Blaster and told me the vet would make him feel better. He looked at me like he understood. He didn’t seem too uncomfortable and I was reassured enough to go home. The vet rang me shortly afterwards. He had kidney failure she said. They would give him some fluids through an IV line and this would hopefully flush out his kidneys while they sedated him and worked out the cause of the bladder infection. “Should I come down?” I asked. She said no, not to and I tried not to worry.

Twenty minutes later I hopped in the car and drove down. I couldn’t shake the feeling Blaster¬†needed me and disconcertingly I heard a couple of mews in my ear while unloading the dishwasher.

The receptionist asked me if I was Blaster’s Mom.She took me to an empty room. The vet came in. She explained to me that everything had gone really well. The procedure to unblock his bladder had worked. They were waking him up and he started talking to them. The vet left to write up her notes. Then five minute later the technician had called her back to say Blaster was unresponsive. He had died while I was driving down to the vet clinic.
“It really looked like he was going to be fine,” said the vet. “You must have known something to come down, she said.” I nodded. I took the box of tissues home. I broke the news¬†to the kids. They all looked winded. We cried together. Then we went down to the clinic to say goodbye.

Our poor dead warm kitty. I think we all hoped he would come back to life as we stroked him one last time. They had cast his pawprints in plaster as a memory and we left with this, our memories and sad hearts.

“Can we get another cat today, “they asked later?” “Another ginger cat!” “Blaster mark 2,” said Axel. Kids recover quickly.

I’m still heartbroken. He was such a handsome cat. But¬†the pain is lessening day by day.

You can’t have life and love without loss.

 

Enlightened Housewife. Asking the hard questions since 2001. Except when I was pregnant and my brain was mush.

Enlightened Housewife. Asking the hard questions since 2001. Except when I was pregnant and my brain was mush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My first Grade son hopped into the car yesterday glowing. “Mom!” he said. I” got to fist bump a giant.” Briefly I pondered on the meaning of this. Did Jack escape the Fairytale? Did our esteemed principal take to yard duty on stilts at lunch recess?

Then it struck me. The SF Giants are back in town. They had a stunning victory in 2014 that cemented them as a baseball dynasty in the San Francisco Hall of Fame. They’re all heading back over for the 2015 season.

One of the Giants pitchers came to school to goof off with the children. Which explains my son’s excitement.

I’m excited too because this means my personal trainer is also back in town.

She travels with her husband who is a Giants coach. And  I desperately need her instruction to shift the lardy lumps that have settled in odd places around my body after Chistmas, the New Year and the slob fest that was Super Bowel Sunday. I mean Super Bowl Sunday. It was actually both. I ate far too much.

I would describe myself as slim. Slim but curvy. ¬†That sounds better than Slim But With Cankles and handles. Lardy ankles? It’s the area I am prone to putting on weight. I remember the comments I got when I was pregnant with number one: “Monique! Your calves are the same size as your ankles!” I would wearily reply. “Yes I am aware of this. My ankles actually have a separate heartbeat.” “No seriously.” ¬†And my obstetrician amuses himself by putting the blood pressure cuff around my ankles to take a measurement.” At this point I would realize that laughter not sympathy was forthcoming. And as payback ¬†I would turn the conversation to ¬†hemorrhoids.

Spring is when¬†I invest some time into getting into shape. You know, because Valentines Day is coming up. The next major celebration that revolves around eating. Followed by St Patrick’s Day. Easter. 4th July! And then after three months of eating over Summer we’re in sniffing distance of what is called the Festive Season! When is it not the festive season here?

A note here. If America’s foes truly wanted to bring the economic powerhouse to it’s knees, they’d realise war is futile. In fact war is so 1994. Instead ¬†they’d engineer a reverse takeover of the Celebrations industry. ¬†Shut it down and watch America slowly grind to a halt.

I love it.¬†I exercise to eat. And the other thing I do at this time of the year is refresh my jewelry. It’s far more satisfying to forget about¬†my fat ankles and decorate my wrists and my Earlobes! ¬†With the help of my Stella and Dot consultant and Spring Fairy ¬†Tammy B! With Tammy’s help I will go to the ball!

Or at least the March school auction and major fund raiser of the year. My Stella and Dot purchases have just arrived and I am thrilled. The following are my favorite pieces and purchases from the Spring Collection:

Rebel Drop Earrings:

These medium weight earrings are the perfect mix of edgy and delicate

Edgy meets delicate and what suburban Mom doesn't  like to sport a bit of Rebel!

My alternate ear wear for Spring. The Orbit Hoop set.

Orbit Hoops Gold jpeg

A set of small hoops, a set of large hoops with interchangeable spike drops. A total of four unique looks.

I believe I have my earlobes sorted for Spring.

Order through Tammy of Stella and Dot here: Tammy B Sring Fairy¬†You can chat with her online and she’ll give you excellent styling advice. Mention Enlightened Housewife for hidden special offers.

Next post my wrists get a little attention. Tomorrow is a very special day. Our twins turn four and it’s Valentines Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m totally¬†organised. So when I woke this morning and remembered that it was the day of my son’s field trip to see elephant seals, I wasn’t unprepared. Okay maybe a little.

By 7.30am I was in Safeway raiding the shelves for whatever might constitute the recommended lunch. From the guidelines:

“Everyone should bring a substantial lunch including a couple of snacks and two drinks. No candy or gum (Darn! How can they do this to us? Oh, well, it’s California after all.) And it’s the teachers not parents that have to deal with the onset of hyperactive bloodlust following the over consumption of Sunset Yellow E110 and Allura Red E129. ) Who can blame them for the strict guidelines?”

“There is no food available to purchase at Ano Nuevo.” Facepalm! That was my back-up plan. Hand the kid some money and set him free. How can this be? I can’t remember the last time I prepared a school lunch. Probably the last full day field trip. My children normally buy lunch at the school cafeteria. The school cafeteria supplies a range of “Kid friendly meals, milk and an organic salad bar.” The quality has¬†moved on from the Slop of yesteryear.

Which reminds me. I grab some organic pre-sliced apples so I don’t get the dirty eye from the Moms that are conscious of both their child’s nutritional needs and others.

I also grab¬†Lunchables which is technically not food. More of a food substitute. It’s actually the backbone of the American economic recovery. Just doing my bit for the economy. Then into the cart go¬†turkey rolls and¬†pre-boiled and peeled eggs.

It may come as a surprise to some Americans that other countries prepare would prepare these foods from scratch.

It may come as a surprise to some countries that you can buy prepared foods and not have them leak all their nutritional value into the plastic wrapper. I mean this can’t happen, can it?

Oh well. I think the lunch bag looks the part. And I do have a back up plan. My Swiss friend is accompanying the class and she can always be relied on to produce a range of nourishing delicacies for all and sundry.

The destination:

“Ano Nuevo State Park’s rich variety of social and cultural resources draws visitors from around the world. The park’s Natural Preserve offers an extraordinary wilderness experience, where every year up to 10,000 elephant seals return to breed, give birth and molt their skin amongst the scenic dunes and beaches.”

The ultimate approach to exfoliation. Gotta hand it to dem seals. They know the secret to youth and beauty. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate.

I drop everyone at school and return home to consider my own nutritional needs. I came off a 30 day detox diet with a thud on Monday so I’m feeling a little like a seal myself. Now I’m searching for some balance in my diet. For my mid morning snack I throw together some ricotta and fruit to satiate the sweet tooth and boost my protein intake:

 

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And forgive me if I post this prematurely with typos. I must now go and meet my son’s bus and hear all about the seals.

 

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Test Kitchen: Sunday Brunch. Poached eggs on ciabatta with bacon and Hollandaise Sauce. 

There is a man in my kitchen. This is nice after a week of solo parenting. If I feed him will he stick around?

Oh look he’s about to feed me. Even better:

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The Enlightened Housewife’s Personal Chef¬†

My husband is home now. He was away for a week in Atlanta for a conference. After a week in a compound,¬†in a Country Club in Georgia with his every need attended to while being preached at by management,¬†he’s ready for a spot of autonomy in the kitchen.

Today’s recipe is perfect for a leisurely Sunday brunch. This was served up shortly after the photo above was taken.

 

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Poached Eggs With Hollandaise Sauce

 

 

Poached eggs on Ciabatta with Bacon and Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients

4 eggs

H2O or water.

9 inches to a ft long ciabatta stick.

butter

6 rashers of bacon or 6 slices of smoked salmon

Hollandaise sauce. I find it’s hard to find a good quality sauce in the main supermarkets. You can make your own by using a good quality ¬†ranch dressing with half a lemon squeezed into about 1/4 cup ranch.

chives to garnish

Recipe

Halve and slice the ciabatta lengthways. Turn the oven onto broil (or ‘grill’ in English speaking countries.) Place the sliced ciabatta under the heat and grill until golden. Meanwhile poach the eggs. This is best done in a deep frying pan half filled with water.

Butter the grilled ciabatta. Fry the bacon and assemble. Drizzle or pour your hollandaise on top and finish with chives.

Warning: Highly calorific comfort food. Hubby made cheeseburgers for dinner and I gained five pounds in a day. Which is fine because it’s all good organic fats to keep the mind and body healthy.¬†I¬†tell myself I gained the weight on the bits that count. Booty boobs and brains.

More recipes to come soon, Housewives.

 

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Today started pleasantly enough. I woke up with the arms of my two tow-headed boys wrapped around my neck. It’s become a ritual that when my husband travels, any assortment of our children spend the nights with me. Last night, Axel (8) helped me bath and tuck down the twins (3).

It was a random outcome. Kaelyn slept in Axel’s bed and Buzz slept under his own bed. I don’t know why that worked for him but it did. The rest of us tucked down together and we all slept until 9am today.

It’s Martin Luther King Day today which means no school and the kids give me a history lesson:

“Mom!” says Cosmo (6). “Martin Luther King Jnr was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15th 1929.”

That’s where Dad is,” offers Axel helpfully.

“In 1929,” asks Cosmo? “No! Shut up Cosmo,” ¬†“He’s not a Time Lord Idiot,” says¬†Axel.

“Mom!” says Cosmo. Axel is trying to segregate me!”

Following that they pull the cushions off the couch and play, “Whupp each other¬†on the bus”. ¬†It’s a more violent version of “Wheels on the Bus”. My children are not terribly politically correct at the best of times but they do have an appreciation of American history.

And to all it is beyond belief that you’d treat someone differently because of the color of their skin.

Meanwhile Hubby is slumming it here:

Chateau Elan in Braselton, Atlanta.

Chateau Elan1

Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, Atlanta, Georgia.

From the website: “From the moment you drive through the gates of Ch√Ęteau √Član until the moment you leave, you will expe¬≠ri¬≠ence warm hos¬≠pi¬≠tal¬≠ity com¬≠bined with the beauty of the French countryside.”

I’m sure it’s awful. It’s amazing what you can do with a wide angle lens and Photoshop these days. No seriously, it’s on my list of places to¬†run for when I need ¬†a respite. That or a suitably appointed detox unit.

I can only dream.

Anniversary Day Recipe

I did mention previously that I was craving eggs and salmon. Here is where I got today:

MLK Day Breakfast Burritos:

Ingredients:

wheat tortillas

spreadable cream cheese

Mexican cheese

3 eggs

milk and butter

3-5 Oz smoked Salmon

Salsa

A selection of the following toppings

Avocado, spring onions, red pepper flakes, Serrano peppers, chives, pesto sauce.

 

Directions:

Scramble the Eggs:

Break eggs into a bowl. Add a slosh of milk and roughly half a teaspoon butter.

 

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Sprinkle in some red pepper flakes if you like to dial up the heat and whisk. Not too vigorously. Just introduce the ingredients together.

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Returning to your stovetop, turn the heat up to medium. Tip the butter into a medium sized pot first and when it has melted pour the rest of the egg mixture in; stirring continuously with a whisk. ¬†The eggs shouldn’t take long to scramble:

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This is on the dryer side. Some people prefer to  take off just before done as the eggs continue to cook.

Prepare  a tortilla:

Heat a burrito sized tortilla in a frying pan on a medium heat. Heat about 20  seconds on both sides with the edges just starting to pull inwards when done.

Assembly:

Lay the tortilla flat and spread the tortilla with cream cheese. Lay the slices of smoked salmon on top. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the eggs on the salmon and dress with salsa and Mexican cheese. For the additional toppings I elected to use avocado and red pepper flakes. Roll up your tortilla and enjoy:

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Wrecking Ball is this week’s theme song for our household. It is so suitable¬†because the house is trashed and it does indeed look as though Miley Cyrus (bless her heart) flew on through on her wrecking ball overnight.¬†I regret the state of the house and will spend most of today in atonement wandering around with no particular motivation to put things to rights. I will fold some linen here and sweep a floor there. It is Sunday after all. And if nothing else, one thing most of the major religions and some of the Hollywood based ones, agree on, is that you shouldn’t work very hard on a Sunday.

Which is why church should really be on a Monday. Cram it all in before work. Then we’d really have something to blame Mondayitis on instead of the 36 hour rebound effect of over-serving oneself on a Saturday night.

We can all come together in our collective misery on a Monday morning, then head off to Starbucks, slapping ourselves on the backs before going¬†to work!¬†It would be so very American. I’m sure productivity would increase!

Four children are currently singing the lyrics of Miley Cyrus’s unforgettable ballad. While playing Minecraft. And eating breakfast. I don’t know how they manage this ultimate feat in multi-tasking. I’ve concluded the hemispheres of children’s brains must have evolved over the last generation. Not enough to cope with simple household chores and there are the predictable emotional trade-offs. If one of the xbox controllers goes missing, everything falls apart.

And despite the fact that they can all play simultaneously, I still have to step in to solve disagreements.

“Mom!” “Buzz hit me,” complains Cosmo (6).

“Did he hit you in real life or did he hit you in¬†#Minecraft, ” I ask.

“He hit me in real life,” he replies.

I explain to Cosmo that his actions in Minecraft might have repercussions in real life. And marvel at my words. “What have I become?” I wonder. Cosmo apologises for knocking over a sign and building a bed in Buzz’s house. Buzz (3) apologises for clocking Cosmo on the head with an xbox controller.

Enlightened Housewife. Asking the hard questions since 2001. Except when I was pregnant and my brain was mush.

Back to the housework. It’s kind of unavoidable. Like the San Francisco fog that’s moodily hanging around outside. It must be really bored to come this far across the bay. ¬†Or annoyed because they shut the Golden Gate Bridge to traffic last weekend while a new high tech safety barrier was installed. Which perversely made me really, really want to drive across it! About Karl the Fog from Huffington Post:

Like most of us, I don’t want to give the impression that our house spends all it’s time in a state of disarray. And it doesn’t. We’ve had plenty of dinner parties and friends over to attest that it’s quite often immaculate. Because we spend the previous 48 hours scrambling madly to put it to rights!

I know some of you do this too. If you come over it’s going to gleam. Just please, please, please don’t look in my laundry or ask why the guest bedroom door won’t open! Is this the American Way or just my way?

And if it’s a little shabby, I have the ultimate excuse. We have a¬†large family. People are both surprised by this and supportive. Probably the consensus is that it’s my thing. Like scrap booking. Or like, some people have a bad back, or get gout. Or raccoons.¬†That I got myself into this situation and eventually I’ll get myself out. I just may be some time.

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Enlightened Housewife. Keeping House since 2001. Before that I was more bohemian than houseproud. Just a little. It was the fashion back then.

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The brats  My darling children are back in school and I can get some time to myself. In an ideal world our living room would always look like this:

 

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I would be sitting at one end of the table enjoying my morning coffee and reading the newspaper. Right before I go out for my mani/pedi. Followed by a stop at my local bookstore.¬†I’d have picked up my 50th anniversary copy of John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Then stopped to read a couple¬†of chapters over my flat white at Starbucks.

Newsflash! Starbucks has only just put a flat white on their menu. Southern hemisphere readers; if you asked for a flat white until recently, you’d get a blank stare. I get a lot of blank stares anyway due to my Kiwi accent.

I have fun with this. I’ve perfected my own blank stare back. With a little help from a Serbian friend. A¬†bit of Slav attitude gets results fast.

The room in the picture above looks lovely and peaceful. Because there are no kids in it. And no evidence of kids. It’s new. A big ole empty new room. Stand at the door to this room; look outwards¬†and you’ll survey the 180 degree view of an inch deep layer of Apple Jacks and Froot Loops.

This is a Before photo of the long slow process of demolition that will ¬†occur over the next twenty years. Where part of us will die a little with each scratch and mark. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. Obviously.

Or I’d have collection of Lladr√≥¬†instead of a collection of kids.

When the kids have left home I plan to start a collection of the ugliest Lladr√≥¬†pieces I can find. I grew up in the 80’s so this is the epitome of glamour for me. I’m just so glad it was different for Lorde growing up in New Zealand a decade or so later:

Imagine trying to work, ” Lladr√≥, Royal Doulton, Diamonds on your car phone”, into the song “Royals”. It just wouldn’t work.

Satus symbols today compared to the 1980’s.¬†

So anyway.¬†I didn’t get to read the newspaper this morning. I’ve rewarmed my coffee from 6 am in the microwave. My toes disappeared off the radar in 2006. They seem to have employed a local cloaking device. Good for them. One more thing less to do. But I have made time for myself to sit down and write.

( I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. If I did they they would all revolve around coffee, food and bad habits.) Way to suck the fun out of life big time. But I am putting a plan in place now the kids are back at school.

The next four months I plan to finish a book. I started this project two years ago. And got busy with life.

When I picked it up again recently the characters were the same but I realised I had the wrong audience. So I’ve started from scratch and hope to have something in three months. I’ve already written two books in different genres. I have a stack of rejection slips to prove it.

So thanks for stopping by my blog. I couldn’t do it without you. To write creatively I have to deliberately open up the creative channels. This I do by putting¬†up a blog post. Then some time later in that day or night I get the urge to sit down at the above table and write a couple of chapters. The¬†characters shoulder tap me: “Oh man, who’s she going to write about now”?

I get to have a bit of fun and a glimpse into another world for five, ten minutes or if I am lucky, an hour. A world that doesn’t have Apple Jacks in it.

Housewife essentials

And I’m wearing this. And my toes are painted to match.

 

 

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It’s just as well I’ve never pursued a corporate career. I just wouldn’t have the Lady Melons to deal with workplace dramas.

Due to being afflicted with the remnants of social anxiety, I have three settings when confronted both with normal conflicting agendas between individuals and also when dealing with rampant arseholery.

These settings are:

1. Doormat.

2. People Pleaser. (Lets just all get along)!

3. Postal!!

I’ve known the following individual and business person for eight months. We contracted her to choose furniture for our living room. We were sick of making bad decisions on our own so we rang in a professional designer. But she wasn’t very professional. It’s been a case of over promise and under deliver.

I realised our designer was overcharging us every opportunity she could get. All the the while smiling and making out like we were best friends. This afternoon I was left with no choice but to drop the rope:

Way to fire your designer via email:

“Dear Designer.”

1. “I am sorry you weren’t professional enough to resolve the freight issues with Hubby.”

(She invoiced us $3,000 for furniture that we could have had freighted for free from the internet. We wanted to ask her to reduce her delivery charge but she escalated quickly)

2. “Threatening us with Court has bought an end to this working relationship.” (Hubby was trying to find a middle ground. Designer tried to bully him by saying ¬†she’d take him to court if he didn’t pay the full amount. He asked her to leave. Then I¬†followed up with an email. See Point 1 above.

3. “Oh stop it. That’s Alligator tears.” (Every time I’d pull her up on something she’d play innocent then hurt. Then GPOTY. (Grandparent of the year with my children. )

Me: “Furthermore:”

“I disbelieve that you have ordered the linen and the lamps. ¬†You tried to bullshit my husband about me taking a while to choose the linen. I paid a deposit on the original six months ago and YOU advised me it wasn’t available any more so we had to re select another fabric.” (She tried to gaslight me. Manipulate facts to insinuate my judgment was off)

Me: “I appreciated we followed the Method¬†designing practice of climbing in bed together to ¬†channel the correct choice of fabrics and the right down weighting for our climate.
It was lovely chanting OM and holding hands. Especially since I lack a Mommy Figure since emigrating to America.”

“I am also sure your design credentials¬†are impeccable.” (She went to a Scandinavian design school. She may have¬†graduated with a diploma in Muppetry)

Me: “However:”

“At every turn there has been delay after delay. The lack of follow up caused multiple delivery trips and this resulted in the freight blow out. 3000!”

“The lack of professionalism was not limited to bad project management. At one stage you tried to double invoice us.” You shocker.

She did. I got two $10,000 invoices and she tried to tell me I was wrong until I presented her with the cold hard evidence from our bank account.

I finished with:

“We are reasonable people so we will settle on the following compromise:

Keep the deposit on the lamps and the linen to offset your excessive freight costs. We have no proof or faith that you have ordered the aforesaid items and no wish to re litigate matters any further.”

“However if you wish to revisit these issues in any other forum we will be more than happy to present our side. As long as it’s in the People’s Court.”

Boss Lady

Boss Lady

“Furthermore. Keep the shonky table. We’ll replace it from Bed Bath and Beyond at half the price.”

Best

Enlightened Housewife.

 

Enlightened Housewife.  Ladling out the advice and speaking my mind since 2012. When I emigrated to America and had to fit in.  Before that I was a pussy.

Enlightened Housewife.
Ladling out the advice and speaking my mind since 2012. When I emigrated to America and had to fit in.
Before that I was just a pussy.

Discuss and share:

Social Anxiety. A have a sister who I swear doesn’t suffer from it. I know lots of politicians and journalists who lack it.

Sarah Palin doesn’t have a smidgen:

She outrages us because she lacks  social anxiety. Bless her boots . Don't be standing on the dogs Sarah.

She outrages us because she lacks social anxiety. Bless her boots. Don’t be standing on the dogs Sarah.

But most of the rest of us have experienced this condition at one time or another.

I’m relieved I’m over it for the most part.

I’m told as a young child I was shy. At elementary school I had lots of friends. The first time I experienced social anxiety was when moving schools during my middle school years. We relocated and that entire car journey I spent my time thinking:

“Will they like me will they like me will they like me”?

Ah. Middle School Anxiety. Think how many friends I made at my new school radiating that low level paranoia!

One! She ditched me after three weeks when her best friend came back from vay cay. She was kind enough to inform me why she was dropping me:

“So and so is back from Australia now. So we’re not going to hang out any more, kay”?

What choice did I have? I took refuge in the entire works of Daphne Du Maurier and Jane Austin and it was fine, really.
I was always kind of a Breakfast Club type of student right through my High School years. Whether we were geeks, jocks or cheerleaders, we all ended up matey in year 13. We all suffered and looking back it was a necessary process to navigate the politics of adult life.

Then I met my husband in college and everything was awesome from then on right? 

No! Fuck no! Shortly after I met future hubby we dropped out of college. We spent some months couch surfing at our respective parents houses. Then we decided to haul our raggedy asses back to college for a second attempt. My 16 year old brother moved in with us and we all underwent a collective angst.

This was Dunedin, New Zealand in the 1990’s. It was settled by the Scottish.

The Glasgow of the Southern Hemisphere.

An awesome place to be unless you’re in a dark place, right? We moved into a condominium sandwiched in between a halfway house and a¬†guy dealing smack. We kept¬†away from both. We knew not to get too experimental. We were having enough trouble keeping a grip on reality as it was.

The 20 year old brain is extremely plastic. Unless you’re distracted by work or are intensely involved in your studies, it can be a perpetual state of Manic Depression. When we were up we were up. When we were down we would sit around in a group rocking; wondering when it would all stop, please. With someone in the condo below us playing Alanis Morrisette at full volume.

We moved out, we moved on. We grew up. We got jobs.

Hang in there it gets better!

Enlightened Housewife. Asking the hard questions since 2001. Except when I was pregnant and my brain was mush.

Enlightened Housewife. Asking the hard questions since 2001. Except when I was pregnant and my brain was mush.

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One of my resolutions is¬†to eat well in the New Year. I’ve done a thorough investigation and I can attest to the following. The right way to start your day is a big plate of cooked oats. Add almond milk and heap with fresh fruit:

Safway one minute oats with almond milk and fruit.

Safeway one minute oats with almond milk and fruit.

The following is not the right way to start the day:

A way to start the day. Rumchata rolled out it's millionth case in 2014

A way to start the day. Rumchata rolled out it’s millionth case in 2014

I’d never heard of Rumchata until recently. So I did some investigation. What is this¬†beverage, the virtues of which are currently and widely being touted around the Mommy Blogosphere?

From the website of Liquor.com:

“RumChata was launched with a soft rollout in the fall of 2009. RumChata is bottled from a made-from scratch cream liqueur recipe that uses five times distilled Caribbean rum and the freshest real dairy cream with a touch of natural cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and other secret flavors. In April of 2014, the award winning RumChata sold its millionth case.”

Hmm..2009 I think. The world was going through the final throes of the global financial crisis. Shops are emptying out and businesses are going under everywhere. There is no innovation and all looks bleak.

Then some GENIUS develops a brand new liqueur! And lo and behold the economy rights itself!

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research The U.S. recession that began in December 2007 ended in June 2009

Mere coincidence or the life preserver that got us all out of the shtick?

Friends attest that it reminds them of Cinnabon. I wonder if there was a correlating drop in sales at Cinnabon when Rumchata was rolled out? I mean, who would eat your cinnamon when you can have it as a liquor? At 13.75%.

Cinnabon might have to get inventive to restore profits here and step it up the next time the world needs a bailout. ¬†I know Cinnabon is a family brand but you know there’ll be a market at least in Oregon¬†following the¬†legalisation of marijuana in 2014. They’d have to have a separate menu for Oregon. Instead of the Cinnabon Classic Roll it would become the Cinnabon Cannabis Classic Roll.

Can you imagine? All the stoners would be standing around outside Cinnabon scratching their heads and going:

“Wow man. That’s CLASSIC”…

The Oregon way to start the day.

Enlightened Housewife. Making you laugh since 2011. :) Before then I wasn’t very funny. I tried. You know.

Shoes are a girls best friend after a man with lots of money.

Shoes are a girls best friend. After a man with lots of money.

 

 

 

 

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Housewife essentials

You can Photoshop ¬†figures. You can highlight cheekbones. It’s relatively easy to remove skin blemishes from photos but it’s impossible¬†to Photoshop in the dewy glow of healthy skin.

Kim Kardashian exemplifies this quality. No matter the situation she is perfectly poised and exudes youth and beauty.

Kim¬†is something else. You’d never know if anything was amiss despite the best attempts of the paparazzi to shake her poise.

What a professional. You’d never now if her panties¬†were riding up or if William Shatner was copping a quick feel¬†on the red carpet.

Kim and I have just one thing in common. We have the same dermatologist.

This is all part of my quest to see how far into the realms of Hollywood fantasy a small-town Kiwi girl can stray. That’s me. My Quest.

Back to the glowing facial skin.

Kim credits her glowing skin to the ministrations of Hollywood dermatologist  Dr Harold Lancer. I read about Dr Lancer in Vogue magazine two years ago and rang to see if I could get on his roster. When I first visited Dr Lancer in Los Angeles, I was struck by his holistic and honest approach to skincare.

He won’t advise¬†Botox or lasers¬†on your first visit. You get a combination of honesty, sensible diet advice and a tailored ¬†prescription of his products.

We’re in LA in early December 2014 so I book into his clinic on Rodeo Drive. I take an early appointment, 7.00 am, on a Tuesday so I’ll have plenty of time to rejoin my family for a day in¬†Universal Studios.

That’s right folks! 7.00am! This is Hollywood!

Hollywood

The place is humming before most normal folks have stepped out of the shower.

I set out from the Hilton Universal at 6.15 am. This should allow me to make the trip across town in good time.

Hitting the 101 South I slap my chin upside with my palm. I should have left earlier. Traffic is bumper to bumper. and it’s only ¬†6.30am . I turnoff¬†onto Highland Ave and pass¬†Hollywood Bowl.¬†Even this early the Bowl is a bustling hive of activity.

Fountain Ave is horrible. Santa Monica Blvd is no better. I ¬†scoot in behind Dr Lancer’s Rodeo Drive clinic an hour late.

His valets welcome me, “Hello Senorita!” Despite the stress of running late I smile. I hustle into the elevator with a spring in my step. There is nothing like being called, “Senorita,” before breakfast to¬†enhance one’s mood.

I don’t need to worry about being late. We’re all seen in order of arrival from the time the clinic opens at 5.30 am. I have plenty of time to chill out in the waiting room. The design is clean and modern. The purple asymmetrical seats are incredibly comfortable and relaxing. ¬†I watch TV. A patient walks off the pre-recorded TV segment ¬†and into the waiting room. That’s usual. A lot of patients are visiting Dr Lancer to calm stressed skin prior to or post appearing on cable. We both get called into our respective rooms fifteen minutes later. I get a microdermabrasion¬†whilst I wait for Dr Lancer. I’d never had one until my first visit with Dr Lancer but now the treatment is no longer a novelty.

I browse his book, “Younger”, in between treatments.

Younger Dr Harold Lancer. MD

Younger
Dr Harold Lancer. MD

Dr Lancer’s interest in skin care began with a childhood incident where he fell in a vat of boiling water on a farm. The horrific burns took months to heal and he was left with only a few small marks on his body. This experience sparked a life long fascination with the self regenerative power of skin. Lancer and a team of specialists developed a line of skincare.¬†The core premise of the Lancer method is that you polish or exfoliate first. Daily. Then you cleanse to pick up the debris of dislodged skin cells. Afterwards you nourish with a mist followed by the appropriate cream for your skin type.

After the microdermabrasion I cleanse my skin and one of the aestheticians applies dry ice as a skin calmer.

Dr Lancer visits another patient. and I’m asked if I will go through to show her my results. She is familiar but I don’t lock it down. We’re both anonymous patients.

” You have beautiful skin she exclaims!”

That’s gratifying. I’ll remember that when I’m a blotchy faced hag, strung out on caffeine and exhausted from shuttling five kids¬†around San Francisco.

I pick up my prescription from reception. Some are medically prescribed and some can be bought off the shelf at Nordstom.

He’s got a less than phony¬†bedside manner has Dr Lancer and is nothing if not a perfectionist.

Like any successful business person he can be polarizing. Some of the reviews on Yelp are a crack-up. Personally I’m¬†convinced he has the best interests of his patients at heart and I suspect his staff are his devoted fans. I gracefully accept the gentle admonishment that I should visit his clinic more often¬†and hustle back to Universal Studios for a theme park hopping day.

It’s 9.am.

Visit Dr Lancer’s website here. ¬†

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A man called Ove
A Man Called Ove, By Fredrick Backman

“Ove is fifty-nine

He drives a Saab. He’s the kind of man who points at people he doesn’t like the look of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman’s flashlight. He stands at the counter of a shop where owners of Japanese cars come to purchase white cables. Ove eyes the sales assistant for a long time before shaking a medium sized box at him.”

“So this is one of those O-Pads, is it”? he demands”.

The brusque Ove harangues the  shop assistant further.

Ove is¬†angry because the world’s moved on and he hasn’t. Ove is a curmudgeon. He patrols the neighborhood daily and relishes the chance to bring¬†any breaches of the rules to the Residents Association to the attentions of his fellows. He has recently been made redundant and we learn that he has lost most of his purpose in living. His life until recently has revolved around his job and his wife.

Naturally he is annoyed when a young disruptive family moves in next to him one day. This leads to sequence of events is both touching and intriguing as we learn more behind the curmudgeonly exterior of Ove.

From the dust jacket: “he is a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routines and a short fuse.”

This debut novel from Sweden is a very enjoyable book to read. Especially if like me you fall in the curmudgeonly end of the spectrum. In our spare time we curmudgeons peruse the internet shaking our heads at all the bad lack that befalls man and the lack of regard for common sense and manners. I suspect that is what Ove wanted to purchase an O-Pad for.

This year I resolve to spend less time on my O-pad and more time reading and reviewing.

Happy New Year.

 

 

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The worst side of anxiety is the watery bowels effect the condition can cause. I became aware about the age of twelve that if I had a crush on someone I could only be around them if there was a nearby bathroom.

In fact that is how I realised I had a crush. I particularly remember the epic time I was caught short down the back of a farm.

All of sudden the farmer’s grandson who I’d innocently played with last summer had this AMAZING taste in music. He introduced me to Fleetwood Mac. He drove a car. When he broke out a Mad Magazine one particular day I¬†felt the first stirrings of ….. A sudden urgent need.

I fled to the general proximity of what we called the toilet paper tree. Big green leaves that could be used as… you guessed it.

And as my insides clenched I reflected.

Mostly on how awesome it was our farming friends ran a dairy farm. With big friendly poopy cows. No one would ever have to know.

The second time this happened I wasn’t so lucky. I took refuge in a wax tree. The wax tree is a member of the poison ivy family. It ¬†caused a painful rash on my buttocks.

And ended my first crush. It was was far too painful and embarrassing to be in love.

A New Zealand jersey cow. Friendly, docile and poopy.

A New Zealand jersey cow. Friendly, docile and poopy.

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I’m doing a series of posts on the cheery topic of anxiety to herald in the New Year.

I was twelve when I had my first full on panic attack. I didn’t establish this date stamp until recently. I had pegged myself to be around the age of eight. I guess eight was how ‘old’ I felt in my head.

Turns out I was a hormonally sensitive tween. It was 1986. There was a disaster at the nuclear power plant Chernobyl.

My precocious friend ¬†Alana cornered me at school. “Do you know,” she said. There’s been a nuclear power plant accident in the Ukraine. Deadly nuclear fallout is going to drift all the way down to New Zealand.”

Perhaps my friend¬†Alana¬†was exhibiting a ¬†journalistic nose for news. When you’ve got a breaking story¬†the imperative¬†is to share to an audience. Verifying sources and fact checking can come secondary to the urge to share.

Alter this pronouncement; Alana went home to her parents who had recently converted from Catholicism to Buddhism.

She had this past year also enlightened me to the actual nature of Santa Claus. I went home to an acute state of misery.

The next two days were an internal monologue of, “when am I going to die, ” and”I’m so scared.” I was asked what was wrong by my worried Mom. My stomach and tongue were so twisted in knots that I¬†couldn’t tell her. She finally drew it out of me and I started to feel better. I believe it was then I got the card. “Welcome to Anxietyville, Have a nice day!”

I wonder how many Cold War era basket cases there are out there. I am certainly one of them.

Dealing with anxiety in childhood comes down to three things.

1. Genetic set point. I was never a bullet proof child. I tended to worry about random stuff even before the onset of panic attacks.

2. Exposure to events that might cause an overly anxious reaction. As a parent we can ¬†be aware that they may be having internal reactions that We can’t wrap our children in cotton wool but I’m careful to check in with them.

3. Management of anxiety by parents. Sometimes kids look older than they are. I don’t over share. They’re going through a totally different life experience than I am ¬†and I may not be able to judge their maturity level. I have a conflict of interest as a parent.

The panic attacks continued sporadically throughout my early childhood. Any prediction of the end of the world would set it off. There was some inane prediction by ¬†freaks channeling Mother Shipton that set me off around 1990. ¬†But everything else was mostly normal until I moved schools. Then came the rounds of social anxiety. More than mere shyness. I am an extrovert. I love social situations. I had lots of friends in my early school years and have lots of friends now. ¬†But due to whatever factors were at play (hormones, recent parental break up, I would suffer. I would go into a new school situation and be paralysed. I wouldn’t speak. I’d desperately want to make friends but I wouldn’t speak. ¬†And not being able to speak severely limits your ability to make friends.

Who’da thunk?

So I learned to self medicate by the age of sixteen. The usual suspects for us¬†Gen X teenagers.¬†Wine (casked); beer; ¬†rum. I developed ¬†a good posse of friends which was awesome. ¬†I took the misbehavior all a bit far in my late teens and early years of college. But it didn’t matter if¬†I burned off the odd flatmate because I was able to talk again and write. My anxiety would reoccur periodically. I’d go and talk with a doctor. They’d ask me how much I drank. I’d lie and life would move on.

I met a couple of people who had a huge influence on my internal state. I was a housekeeper at a motel and made friends with the head housekeeper who was just a few years older than me. She would curse¬†and¬†speak her mind. And she was so funny. We would be in fits as we folded sheets together. We’d finish work and hang out and she’d tease me and I’d relax. She was like the older sister I never had.

I met the deadlocked hippy who was my future husband.

Call it Oxytocin or “Love at first sight” ; the rare combination of Brains (we were College dropouts) and Aspiration (we had none; we were hippies) drew us together. It turns out we’d experience the future ups and downs of life together.

I’ll split this post out into two¬†shortly

 

I realized this year, mainly through others honest discussions, that we all have something. Call it anxiety; depression; the human condition. We’ll go to any lengths to hide it but we’re all suffering from it!

Crazy crazy us! If you’re an anxious teen or prone to anxiety; hang in there. It always gets better. And never underestimate the power of a laugh or a cuddle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discuss and share:

First. A recipe to use up your leftover pork:

Boxing Day Burgers

Leftover Pork or Roast Chicken.

BBQ Sauce.

Onion rings. (half or whole onion to taste)

Jalapenos or milder peppers for sooks.

Canned pineapple.

Mayo. I used Best Foods

Buns or Romaine lettuce leaves for the gluten free option.

Fry together the pork, bbq sauce and onions. You probably won’t need any extra fat or liquid.

Butter the buns and heap the warmed pork mixture on top. Dress with Jalapenos and top with a pineapple ring or two.

Finish with mayo and top with another bun.

Enjoy.

Three biggest stories here in the Bay Area on Boxing Day:

1. Mountain Lion loose in Hillsborough. A quote from SF Gate:

‚ÄúLots of people let their pets roam around,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúIf you could see what it did to this baby deer … let‚Äôs just say that the cat was hungry.‚ÄĚ Yuck.

“Because there were no prints, O‚ÄôConnor said, it was impossible to determine exactly what had attacked the fawn. He noted that coyotes and bobcats also frequent the area and sometimes prey on small deer.”

2 40% of people will return an average of four gifts each on Boxing Day:

A cashier at our shopping center said it was their busiest day of the year. 40% of the recipients of YOUR gifts will have  re gifted.

I’d be pissed.

3.  The New York cops are pissed at the mayor following the slaying of two cops last Saturday. 

“De Blasio Our Backs Have Turned to you”

DE BLASIO, OUR BACKS HAVE TURNED TO YOU,‚ÄĚ screamed a banner trailing from a plane that flew along the Hudson River in a show of disdain for the mayor.

“Since the execution of two cops in their squad car in Brooklyn a week ago, many members of the NYPD have accused de Blasio of fostering anti-police sentiment that they charge contributed to the officers‚Äô deaths.”

Among the speakers at the funeral for slain NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio,

Have a wild-animal free day and spare a thought for the families of cops everywhere.

Discuss and share:

First off. The best part about Christmas is not being a dead celebrity.

The worst and most depressing part is not watching the Christmas time antics of the Kardashians. Though that is depressing.
It is being exposed to the barrage of tributes about those we have ‘Lost’ building up to the New Year.

Normal people die or pass on. Those of us remaining grieve and move on.Celebrities are different. They get ‘lost’.

Interesting metaphysical connotations. Maybe the association with Hollywood gives celebrities an added dimension to their existence.

Instead of being Goneburgers like us normal folk; celebrities are still here, ‘With us‘. Another perplexing term.

Like, if the rest of us just squint the ¬†right way they’ll be back, ‘With Us’.

We won’t be able to touch them. We’ll probably see right through them. Ewww!

But they’ll be around; just a fainter version.

Dead celebrities would be the best people to take to a party.

Even better than live celebrities.

Some issues here¬†for Hollywood agents. Who to put where on the circuit? You’ve got your A list celebrities. your B list and ¬†now your Dead List.

Does¬†Joan Rivers get one of the most coveted lanyards to the Oscars? Or is this seen as a snub to those who didn’t die and become useless to the industry. Who’s accorded seniority? Rivers or Close/Keaton/Streep

Still! Dead celebrities won’t drink once they figure out they look stupid¬†when the liquid drains right through and end up on the floor.

More for the rest of us.

Unfortunately they won’t be able to play the role of sober driver because of the limiting factors of being non corporeal.

The gag possibilities are endless. Imagine being pulled over. Sheriff: “Blow into this breathalyser. Patrick Swayze: ¬†” I’ve got one problem.”Sheriff: “Hey aren’t you that guy out ¬†of, what’s that movie”?

Patrick: ” Ghost. That’s my problem”.

So this year.  spare a thought for the non-working dead celeb who passed in 2014.

It’ll be hard not too.

Robin Williams in 2011. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Robin Williams in 2011. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

 

Discuss and share:

We wind up Christmas Eve playing Ticket to Ride with our oldest son. He’s in fifth grade and not easily¬†fobbed off when he asks the awkward questions. ¬†He’s too old to be called a child but too young to treat as an adult. And the faith is strong in this one. Proudest moment of my life ¬†was this time last year when he declared: ” Mom I’m the only fourth grader who actually believes in Santa!” He said this with pride and not a hint of disbelief in the existence of magical creatures.

This elaborate ritual¬†glorifying the wonder of¬†childhood is Christianity’s¬†greatest triumph. Other than taking the art of brewing beer to it’s highest level¬†that is.

I lose Ticket To Ride and the guys wind me up. I’m fiercely competitive so it’s easy. We have some laughs and¬†my son¬†and I fight over who’s going to post Team America to my Facebook feed.

 

My cousins back in New Zealand ¬†rise to the occasion and post “New Zealand Whaka Yeah”.

Whaka is a Maori word; a grammatical particle. One reason why as a culture we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Our native language sounds like a cuss fest but you know it’s not because we’re smiling as we speak.
It’s when you see the whites of our eyes you need to move back. Slowly.

We’re a self conscious culture as opposed to a confident culture but we cook a mean roast dinner and our nation was settled with a whole lot of mutual arse kicking.

New Zealand scenery is out of this world. I grew up on a movie set and had no idea. I was born in the most beautiful country and I now live in the most beautiful country. This is the duality of national pride I am blessed with this Christmas.

Belief is a mindset you can re adopt as an adult. The proof is in the giving. Stop Believing and all you receive for Christmas is socks and undies .
Maintain your level of Belief and anything is possible. Unless you are dealing with Wellington City Council (NZ) but that is another story.

Christmas Eve Yeah!

Discuss and share:

As an adult first  generation immigrant to the USA, I find Christmas overwhelming. The whole period of the year from the time children return to school in late August is an overwhelming non stop succession of festivals and celebrations. Our school is often in recess through this first semester.
School starts back August 25th. it’s called a ‘minimum day’. 8.30 to 11.45. I mean, why bother? But everyone attends because if you miss the first three days of school you can be diverted to another local school. I haven’t heard of it happening but our jolly and incredibly efficient principal never fails to remind us of the consequences via email.

Then September 1st is Labor day. Yup. 1st weekend back at school is a long weekend! Why not just start school after Labor weekend? Sheesh.

September is all about Conference week. A week of minimum days. And running the gauntlet  of a series of parent/ teacher conferences.
Hubby is away for ¬†in Buenos Aires for a week for work. I’ve got five kids to manage on my own and shuttle kids to school and eight hours worth of after school activities. ¬†Facepalm!

At this point I realize that I’m not losing it and I’m not not imagining it either. It is ¬†little crazy.¬†All the expectations from school. All the expectations we put on our selves and our kids. Piano. Violin. Dance. Because to get into the good colleges they need to be well rounded. So I do what any self respecting American parent does. I sign my child up for another dance class and I go shopping.

All the seasonal stuff comes into the stores and I start stocking up for the next two months. First Halloween. An hour in Costco and five Halloween outfits later I’m well prepared for the biggest school day of the year!

Thursday 30th October rolls around. I’ve been up since 4am. Which is not a lot earlier than I normally wake. Because ‘Hyper’ in a culture can be kind of catching.

Usually I let the kids sleep until 6.50am. Exactly. This morning I’m in their rooms at six am dragging them out of bed by their ankles. The ten year old hits the floor and wakes up “Put this on”, I¬†say and I’m off to the twins room. Two hands and two sets of ankles later I’ve got the twins on the floor looking at me puzzled.

By 7am all five children are in the car dressed in their Halloween costume for school. I can’t believe how well we’re doing. I might even be able to stop by Starbucks.

“We haven’t had breakfast yet”, observes my First Grader mildly.

By 7.40am we’re back in the car. I lose a hat. Another ten minutes delay. I groan.
We leave. Hopefully there’s car parks left at school.

It’s the annual Halloween tradition. At 8.30 am there will be a parade around the lower field by the children in their Halloween garb followed by class parties for the rest of the school day. Which is. You guessed it. A minimum day. ¬†So instead of just the usual routine of Stop Drop and Go you’ve got Mom and Dad in separate cars up at school to watch darling Jupiter parade as a vampire.

It’s such a family event you’ve also got ¬†Nana and Grandad from Fremont and Aunty Louise from Ohio. Four cars per family. At least. If you want to park at the school you have to be there by 8am.

The three oldest participate in the parade. There are less Steves this year.

Then it’s off to the twins preschool an hour to repeat the tradition.

And at this point I have to stop and wrap gifts for the latest celebration (More gifts wrapped now means more time in the Chardonnay bottle later. I will hopefully get more time to write this afternoon.

In Australia and New Zealand to celebrate we whip egg whites and slow bake into a gooey meringue topped with cream and fruit.

In Australia and New Zealand to celebrate we whip egg whites and slow bake into a gooey meringue topped with cream and fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discuss and share:

Today started predictably enough. Hearing my daughter’s voice, I arose from my slumber and opened my eyes to see a ball of spittle, precariously suspended by a single thread of saliva, superimposed on my daughter’s cheeky grin.

I whisked my head sideways to avoid the looming fate. The spittle plopped on my pillow and I made a mental note to myself to change the pillowslip.

I’ll probably forget.

I dispatch Kaelyn to check on the state ¬†of her brother’s rooms. She is distracted by our ginger tom, Blaster. He submits to her earnest affections and I make myself a cup of freshly ground coffee with our Rancilio.

Rancillo

I step outside to check on the state of things.

And stand on a dead rat.

“Eurghhh! Don’t touch that cat”, I yell back at the house. I hop from one foot to another sloshing my coffee in the process. Other than the dead rodent, things appear largely to be in order.

I make a mental note to pack away the last of the Halloween decorations including the RIP sign on the front porch.

 

DSC_0083

 

 

I browse the online version of the New York Times before the kids start clamoring for breakfast. From “Our ‘Mommy’ Problem”:

“Motherhood is no longer viewed as simply a relationship with your children, a role you play at home and at school, or even a hallowed institution. Motherhood has been elevated – or perhaps demoted to the realm of lifestyle, an all encompassing identity with demands and expectations that eclipse everything else in a woman’s life”.

I laugh at this:

“The current culture demands that every mother be all in, all the time. My sister-in-law told me about a mom at her kid‚Äôs elementary school who took the basic school T-shirt that everyone got and painstakingly created a beaded fringe at the bottom, replete with cinched waist and perfectly cuffed sleeves. All of the other little girls gathered around, screeching variations of ‚ÄúI want the same thing!‚ÄĚ Incredibly enough, instead of laughing in their unrealistic faces the way our parents might have, all the adults started mumbling, ‚ÄúYes, O.K., we can do that, sure, I‚Äôll learn a challenging new craft, no problem. Tonight, of course. We‚Äôll do it tonight.‚ÄĚ This made my sister-in-law, who was already late for work, want to teach a few people the artisanal craft of rearranging someone‚Äôs face using only your bare hands. We are outclassed at every turn. We are outspent and out-helicoptered and outnumbered. It used to be good enough just to keep your house from being coated in a thin layer of dog hair and human feces. No longer.”

And this:

“FORTY years ago, my mother and her two friends drank coffee, ate homemade cherry pie and chain-smoked their way through lively debates over whether a popular author was daringly frank or a chauvinist, while their children were expected to play nicely outside and rarely interrupt. Today, all three mothers might instead be engaged in some elaborate craft project, with each woman stopping the conversation every few seconds to open a little jar of paint or to help glue on some tiny eyes.”

Flashback!

I slap my head with the palm of my hand.

My son’s third grade class was given a craft project to decorate a paper scarecrow.

A MONTH ago! It’s still outstanding due to a combination of procrastination and lack of motivation.
I’m sorry, but most third grade boys are scarcely capable of coloring inside the lines let alone being able to deploy the skills required to kit out¬†a paper scarecrow using the suggested fabric and ‘other materials’.
The paper scarecrow has sat in the Homework tray for a month whilst every two days I cajole my third grader to start on his ‘Scarecrow Project’. Occasionally I weakly email my son’s teacher to say, “It’ll be in this week”.
We can’t not complete this homework project. They’ll be graded on it for their first semester report card. On one hand this is outrageous. It’s a freaking art project.

On the other hand I can see it helping teach valuable project management skills.
And cutting and pasting strengthens finger muscles for ELA (English Language Arts) This Common Core Standards jargon is everywhere these days. In my day it was known as Reading Writing and Art. Separate subjects.

The jury is out on Common Core but the curriculum has a Kumon like feel about it. There is endless¬†repetition with fractionally different examples and mastery of one topic before proceeding to the next. Great to prevent gaps in knowledge and monitor the progress of the child’s learning but quick learners can get bored having to explain why they ‘know’ something.

“But I just KNOW,” is the oft heard phrase at our Homework table. “This SUCKS”, is another common phrase.

common core

I’ve noticed the teachers adapt their teaching style to compensate. Some allow for extra credit. Others drop everything and take the kids to the playing field for¬†real life examples.

Regardless of the veracity of the curriculum; I realize the writing is on the wall. There is going to to be some cutting and pasting and employment of Project Management Skills. Today.

“I’m too busy to decorate a Scarecrow!” I mutter. Five children does give cause to to fill one’s day in. But I’m resigned. I ¬†get my cutting and pasting tools out. I ransack my brain for ideas.

Quite frankly I feel defeated.¬†Several¬†days earlier I had looked into my son’s classroom to see what the finished product might look like. What a mistake that was! It would appear there are a lot of third graders capable of turning out perfectly decorated; blinged up paper scarecrows.
I’m dubious that a Third Grader could reliably place buttons let alone sharpie on a well appointed lop-sided scarecrow smile.

And I’ll eat my hat if my son’s classmates hemmed the¬†¬†denim material adorning some of the scarecrows as dungarees.

DSC_0085

I realize I’m a reluctant victim of the “All In”, Parenting Syndrome as per the “Our ‘Mommy’ Problem” Blog Post. Instead of handing my son some crayons and telling him to get drawing, ¬†I am doing his art project for him. To the best of my meagre ability. ¬†I don’t want my son to have the only crayon drawn Scarecrow on the classroom¬†wall and be awarded a ‘2’ for a grade.

The worst of this whole business is that I don’t have the craft skill of some of the other Mom’s. I tell myself that I’ll be learning valuable project management skills and set to work.

Axel insists that the dungarees be white. “That’s so lame I mutter”. Everyone knows Scarecrow dungarees are denim or burlap. But I guess my son has to have some input into the project so I can look his teacher in the eye.

I make a paper dungaree template. For the shirt I ¬†cut up an old pair of swim shorts from GAP. They are three seasons old and have a hole in the crotch. It’s about time they were retired despite the temptation to pass them onto my youngest to get another swim season from them.

I make a fatal mistake and get my son to draw in the eyes and the smile.

Scarecrow gets a thin smile and three eyes.

My husband wanders past and says “that’s so cute”, about my Scarecrow. I feel vindicated. My scarecrow may not be the most polished but Hubby thinks it’s cute. Which means he thinks I’m cute. Possibly. I’m wearing my gardening clothes; cutoffs, the aforesaid hat and a deranged smile as I pick¬†through buttons for the final touches.

I place the hat I’ve stolen from a scarecrow in a neighboring garden. It’s not the first time I’ve turned to criminal acts in the name of Motherhood. Like Mob Bosses, we do what we have to do. ¬†As “Our ‘Mommy’ Problems” blog post notes; the perception of “Motherhood” can me erroneous and appearances can be misleading. We are people with the Mommy overlay. We have different strengths and weaknesses to meet the pressures coming from every direction.

I may not know how to hem denim but I know how to pilfer.

I throw a handful of leaves on the paper dungarees and take a picture of the finished product.

Paper Scarecrow

 

Discuss and share:

This morning I start on the back foot. Something awful has happened in the kitchen overnight. The remains of two well picked over chicken carcasses and random crockery and pots are strewn everywhere.

Could a raccoon have gotten in again in the middle of the night with ill gotten gains from a neighboring chicken coop and chased the cats around the house before all settling to enjoy some kind of feral midnight dinner party?

I think back. No. Last night I picked up two organic chickens for dinner. Hubby steamed vegetables and grilled cheese on an artisan breadstick.

The kids formed a bloc and refused to come to the dinner table.

“I’m Not Hungry”, they call back as they retreat with a packet of pretzels and a roll of frozen cookie dough. We adults are temporarily gutted at not being able to convince our children to eat a nutritious dinner. We sit in an obtuse silence with our I phones and watch two bottles of wine mysteriously drain themselves of the contents before we polish off the rest of Hubby’s birthday cake from The Cheesecake Factory.

cheesecake-factory-cake
After dinner we get distracted by a documentary on American rebel States in the Civil War.
It may not have been the Civil War (I am hazy on the history of New Zealand let alone that of the USA).
Checking the Housewife’s Fountain of Knowledge clears up the confusion:
The documentary was about the beginning of the Civil war following Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860. Seven Slave States set up their own government and war broke out in April 1861¬† : From Wikipedia:

“The Confederate States of America was created by secessionists in Southern slave states who refused to remain in a nation that they believed was turning them into second‚Äďclass citizens. They judged the agent of change to be abolitionists and anti-slavery elements in the Republican Party whom they believed used repeated insult and injury to subject them to intolerable “humiliation and degradation”.The “Black Republicans” (as the Southerners called them) and their allies would soon become a majority in the United States House, Senate, and Presidency.”

Whoda thunk? Way back in the day, The Republicans were the good guys. Mitt Romney, you missed your time.

Long story short:

The Confederacy got their pants kicked and told to pull their heads out of the dark ages and stop enslaving people.

Interestingly there is still resistance to acknowledging equal rights in the Deep South. From the New York Times:

Two Remaining Rebel States

The state of the kitchen explained, I set to putting things to rights. Fortunately most of the chicken has been set aside for our lunch today and I can make Matzo Ball Soup with the carcasses tonight.

In the meantime I have to turn this:

Our kitchen in the morning.

Our kitchen in the morning.

Into this:

DSC_0013

Clear surfaces and vases of Spring flowers restore calm.

For them:

DSC_0091

Ozy Axel and Cosmo sing The Star Spangled Banner beneath a New Zealand themed wall hanging,

 

Discuss and share:

Today started  pleasantly enough. I was with a friend of mine in our newly remodeled home.  We were discussing the possibility of buying in some more wine. I was knocking back a bowl of artichoke dip with my gorgeous redhead friend.

Prior conversation had been no more in-depth other than canvassing the health of our extended families and making plans to get our nails done together.
Our discussion was rudely interrupted by the, “Rurp Rurp Rurp”, of my husbands Iphone.

The tempting victuals disappear. I roll over.

“Turn that ******* alarm off”, is the first phrase my husband hears upon waking.

He calmly acquiesces to my unwitting command.

I pull the duvet up to my chin and attempt to reenter the dreamland that had been so rudely ripped away.

I succeed. This time I have a guilt dream about a massive box of cereal knocking me over in the our local Safeway.
The payback no doubt for stuffing down a stackload of grilled cheese last night.
In these politically correct days, the technical term is “bingeing”. I don’t know what my Housewifely counterparts in other households are doing at midnight, but I’m inclined to snarf back a highly calorific supper and fall into bed unrepentant and exhausted.

“Rurp Rurp Rurp”, goes the back-up alarm at 7.30am.
In our house, sleeping in is a disaster of immense proportions.
To have any chance of delivering our children to school in a timely fashion relies on me rising no later than 5.30am.
On top of a two hour shift in the middle of the night where I wake and stack dishes and fold linen.
Last night I was awake from 2am to 4am changing  wet beds. Emerging from a soggy slumber; sleepy children and inquisitive cats all wound their way round each other and me before  succumbing to somnolence before dawn.
To meet the needs of a large family and the expectations of aspirational California I live my life in shifts.

I am properly awake now. “Happy Birthday”, I say to my husband.

This, in slightly more dulcet tones than my earlier edict.

It’s a Significant Birthday.

We are Significantly Older than when we met half a lifetime ago.

We have Significantly More Chaos in our lives than we did a quarter of our lives ago.

I tumble out of bed and fall on a three year old. She stands and starts waving her brother’s hand in the air vigorously. His head wobbles in time with his hand but he stoically puts up with his sister’s tender ministrations.

“Time to Get Up”, Mommy, she says to me. “Get up now Mommy”. Her brother nods.

“Bad Mommy”, says her brother to me with the eyes of an angel and unsettling perspicacity.

And:
“I got Bad Poopys Mommy”.
Sighing, I retrieve my  mommy uniform from the floor.

I don black leggings and a top I may or may not have worn previously. My top is black and I finish the outfit off with a black cardigan and black boots. It’s a cultural thing. I’m from New Zealand and we wear a lot of black. We’re intrinsically Gothic.

Acclaimed music artist Lorde is a great showcase for NZ fashion trends and our gothic tendencies.

Lorde at the 27th Annual ARIA Music Awards, December 2013. Wikipedia commons

Lorde at the 27th Annual ARIA Music Awards, December 2013. Wikipedia commons

After emigrating to Calfornia, I had to train myself to wear color when the weather is warmer.

After 30 plus years in NZ, I love the novelty of LA. It’s the fashionista’s polar opposite to the NZ fashion scene.

Soothing pastels and jumpsuits have their own unique charm.

In time, I awkwardly try to adapt to the Californian fashion scene. The first attempt at buying a jumpsuit ends in disaster. I gravitate to a black version. It looks awful on me.

Unfortunately so does pastel.

It could take me some time to find my signature jumpsuit look.

The morning unfolds. I ready school lunches and brush teeth.

I drop the twins off at their preschool and a Dad gives me a big smile. I smile back.

I vaguely wonder if he is giving me the glad eye.

Another cultural adjustment. American folk are open and friendly in everyday dealings but tend to be more reserved in deeper discussions.  NZers are reserved in the first instance but are open to overtures.

Upon establishing an initial connection; we’re best mates with all and sundry and comfortable¬† discussing anything.
It probably wasn’t the glad eye but it’s made my day a little brighter anyhows.
I return home after the school run.

I attempt to straighten the house before retiring defeated.

Social Media is so much more rewarding than housework,

I hang out and play a song suitable for the occasion to mark my husband’s birthday:

.

Discuss and share:

Kiwis celebrate Waitangi Day in San Francisco with Sir Peter Snell

Celebrated Kiwis from all walks of life, and their American friends will observe Waitangi Day in San Francisco with one of the world’s most respected athletes; Sir Peter Snell.
peter snell
New Zealand has a reputation for punching above its weight when it comes to turning out world-class sportspeople, artists and scientists.

There is no one who better exemplifies this trait than Sir Peter Snell; the first man to achieve the 800m and 1500m double at the Olympic Games in 1964.

Sir Peter Snell was recognized by New Zealand as Sportsman of the century in 2000 and was knighted by the Governor General of New Zealand in 2009.
Now a US citizen, he was inducted into the International Association of Athletics Federation, (IAAF),  in 2012.

New Zealand expats and friends from around the Bay area will come together to celebrate Waitangi Day at the Golden Gate Yacht Club on Saturday February 8th.
Expat Association; NZ American Association of San Francisco, (NZAASF), will host world renown Kiwi scientists, entertainers and sportspeople, academicians, artists, & professionals.
Guests will dine on a menu inspired by Kiwi chef Andrew Johnstone after listening to the evening address by Sir Peter Snell.
Highlights include New Zealand Lamb, seafood, Pavlova,wines, beers and a special guest appearance from celebrity chef Kayne Raymond of No Kitchen Required:

http://www.bbcamerica.com/no-kitchen-required

no-kitchen-required-hero

Past and Present WAITANGI DAY HONOURED SPEAKERS:

Sir Russell Coutts;

Sir Vaughan Jones;

Sir Ken Stevens;

Sir Peter Snell

For photos from last years; Waitangi Day event and ticketing visit www.sfkiwis.com

If it’s too late this year, put it on your calender for next year if you’re passing through The San Francisco Bay Area.
I went last year and it was great fun. Lots of Americans joined Kiwis in having a great old time.

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It’s day four of our Thanksgiving festivities. My five little angels have had too many hours on their I pads. Alas, late nights have no effect on how long children sleep on for in the morning.

Today I woke up early being whipped with black liquorice.
And it wasn’t my husband getting creative.¬† At the end of the piece of liquorice was my four year old daughter Kaelyn.

“Umrgh”, I say.
“Mommy been naughty”, says Kaelyn.
She was right on the mark as far as my behavior over Thanksgiving. Too many late nights and too many indulgences. Some triggered by excitement and some by the need to keep Bad Mommy at bay. More about that later.
Kaelyn whips me again on the forehead and I leap out of bed. Unfortunately my knee connects with the glass of wine left beside the bed.
“Fuck”, says Oldest Son, helpfully. “Language”,¬†I roar. Most of the contents of the wine glass dumps into one of a pair of my favorite black Cole Haan riding boots. The rest of the beverage sprays over the immediate floor beside our bed.
This was not the disaster it might have been. The carpet beside my bed is protected year round by foot deep layer of¬† old newspapers, children’s art and stale bagel chips. Unlike the carpet on the other side of the bed.
If there was a crumb on my husband’s side, it would be lonely.
More evidence of bad behavior on my part.
Kaelyn whips me again.
I turn away and pick up the sodden boot.
Scull”, says oldest son helpfully.
“Where do you learn these concepts”, as I push past him to drain the boot in the bathtub. “You said you drank out of a boot once”, says Oldest Son.

“I can’t imagine why I would have told you that”, I say as my mind flashes back to College days.
You were trying to sound cool when you were talking to an old friend”, said the blankets.
“Who put that fucking glass of wine there”? I ask my husband.

“You did”. He adds helpfully, “You muttered something about ‘one for the road’ and slopped most of it down the hallway on your way to bed”.
I smile sweetly down at the Talking Blankets. “I guess I didn’t need it then”, I say.
I inform him that we have a full day ahead, culminating in dinner out.
“Sore throat”, he mutters and turns back into Blanket Man.
Kaelyn gets two sticks of black liquorice and wiggles them on her forehead. “Eyebrows”, she says.

DSC_0024 1
“Where do you learn these concepts, sweetie”? I ask idly.
We give hubby another half hour sleep. I endeavor to dress five ragamuffins in suitable garb for a Nutcracker morning tea at our Country Club. My efforts are to no avail and I find it more frustrating than playing “Whack-a-mole”. I brush one little boy’s hair and notice someone else has it spiked back up. I give one child suitable garb and turn around to find another wearing the Minecraft t-shirt that got us in breach of Dress Code last time.
Oh the ignominy of eating on the Club patio and not by choice.

All’s well that ends well. Bad Grumpy Mommy makes an appearance later but I banish her with lemon tart that I liberate off an empty table at the Club into my handbag for such a purpose. We made it to the Nutcracker Tea in reasonable dress and later I take the older boys to the local performance of The Nutcracker at the Lesher Centre for the Arts, Walnut Creek. The Contra Costa Ballet performs the well known Christmas Story and I get that first touch of Christmas magic this season. The costumes are incredible and the dancers are very accomplished. Oldest Son now wants to do ballet.
“Practice your piano and watch your language”, I say. “Then we can talk about ballet”.

Updated.

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Thanksgiving  came and went in our household  with a surprising lack of drama and aggravation. We must be doing something right. Our household of seven is always teetering on the edge of  minor disasters, culinary and otherwise.

It  appeared as if disaster was imminent from the first moment I opened my eyes this Thanksgiving morn. At the very least, a degree of discomfort and uncertainty loomed.
I woke, as I often do, with my baby daughter’s fingers lodged in my nostrils.
“Mommy Got Nose”, pronounces my two year-old daughter, Kaelyn.

Kaelyn

Kaelyn

I nod, and lamely say, “Umgrh”!
Then, I mistakenly attempt to dislodge her digits from my nostrils  by a combination of shaking my head and employing the only Karate move I have ever learned.
Translated to a horizontal position, this ploy is surprising ineffective and leaves me with sciatica.

Sustaining other minor injuries, I am infinitely  grateful when Kaelyn withdraws her fingers, in order to provide exploratory surgery to a random Teddy bear.
Then, ignoring the twinge in my neck, I examine my still-beleaguered nasal cavity and attempt to retrieve what I guess to be a Lego Mini-Figures hat, accompanied by a Lego Creator headlamp.
I am right on the money. Our Minecraft indoctrinated seven year old shouts, “Mommy is Mining”, as I remove and place the offending bits of plastic on the bedside table.
Waving her hands in the air, my unrepentant and gleeful daughter yells, “Mommy Got Boobies”!
Mr Seven year-old grabs the excavated Lego and leaves for the toy room to search for more Lego.
Kaelyn and I then enjoy some Mommy/Daughter time together beside my slumbering husband.
Kaelyn currently enjoys naming body parts. We run through all the body parts that we can think of. We spend a lot of time on the torso and genitals. We decide that Mommy doesn’t have a penis but several of her brothers do.
Deciding I have the patience of Saints, I then poke my still-snoring Other Half:

“Happy Thanksgiving”, I shout:

“Umgrh”, he mutters imperviously.

Toying with the idea of bestowing the  special delivery of a Lego Mini-figures Hat and Lego Creator headlamp upon hubby, I decide to be the bigger person. Gleefully occupying the  higher moral ground, I clamber out of bed while Kaelyn cuddles up to her slumbering dad.

The sun is just arriving in our front lounge. It’s frosty outside.

Frosty baubles

Frosty outside but warm inside and nothing warms the cockles more than when the rest of the family emerges from their bedrooms.

My husband lumbers into the living room.

You wouldn’t believe what Kaelyn stuck up my nose while I was sleeping”, he says.

“Try me”? I say innocently.
“Do you think we need to get some Lego for the boys for Christmas”, I say.

 

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Recently re-elected Mayor of Auckland, Len Brown was recently outed over and admitted to a two year long affair with attractive political rookie Bevan Chuang. The story has now gone global.
CNN does superb coverage of all the unfolding scandal:

See here:

Len Brown leads on CNN

Len Brown leads on CNN

Where have we heard all this before?

New York: Former congressman and recidivist sexter Anthony Weiner’s hopes of becoming Mayor of New York were dashed during the primaries in a sexting scandal:
By “those meddling kids”

 Anthony Weiner Blames Mayoral Loss on the Existence of the Internet:

“That‚Äôs right. If it weren‚Äôt for those meddling kids and that internet, maybe Weiner would be mayor right now. Or even President. It‚Äôs hard to tell, since history would probably be a lot different without the advent of high-speed communication, but anything is possible when we use our imaginations.”

The breathtaking arrogance of the man. He resigned from Congress in 2011 for tweeting sexually suggestive photos of himself.

Do men like this learn from their mistakes?

It would seem not.  In July 2013 he had to withdraw from the Mayoral race after sexting via an alias.

So his behaviour as a role model is appalling. His actions and judgement show a lack of foresight and judgment and he blames his downfall on the Internet.

Unfortunately the revelations around Len Brown’s behavior have come too late for the¬† voters of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city to have the discussion during the Mayoral race.

New Zealand’s Len brown was elected before his sexual misdemeanors came to light last week via the Whaleoil blog.
Straight away the battle line were drawn. It was declared a plot by left wing commentators who ran with stories linking Brown’s rival John Palino to the disclosures over Brown’s personal life. Chuang was pressured to reveal all, it was alleged. Chuang obliged by turning into a sook; wishing that nice Mr Brown all the best and turning on the tears. Probably an ill advised attempt to control her public image.
She should have gone to ground. She made her bed, etc, et al. However, the pressure must have been immense with middle aged men of all political creeds going: “Phoarrr”, “it was all the fault of the Asian Hussy”.
Men! More fantasy than reality. How many of these commentators have ever been seduced in this manner when the reality is that women are more vulnerable to being picked off by powerful males, AKA Bill Clinton.

It’s now a play in the great game of political roshambo between the oil and agricultural/ industries and left wing city planners who hold the moral higher ground in the eyes of liberal city voters.
In this arena, corn and rail inevitably trump oil so it’s a mere shame that those nasty right wing bloggers have outed that nice Mr Brown.

I personally have my concerns about that nice Mr Brown.

I suggest he has a level of breathtaking arrogance that is of a concern to voters.

Brown immediately pled for understanding from voters and privacy to work through the issues with his family. He had told his wife about the affair, he said.

We’re very understanding, we voters. Affairs happen.
And the media should stay out of politicians private lives. And so they should unless it is exposing an unprecedented level of duplicity and hypocrisy.

Duplicity: The timing of the confession to his wife roughly coincided with a threatening text by an as yet unidentified party to Bevan Chuang. We are left
with the conclusion that Brown only confessed the affair to his wife only when he knew the story was breaking nationwide.

Hypocrisy: Brown asks for privacy then issues a press statement allegedly from his daughters¬† underling their full support for their dad. “Written on behalf of Sam, Olivia and Victoria”.¬†

Len Brown's daughters: "We stand by Dad".

Len Brown’s daughters: Would they stand by their husbands if they behaved in a similar fashion?

The number of females under the unrelenting glare of the media spotlight has now trebled. Chuang, Brown’s wife and daughters are all being held hostage due to the actions of one man.¬† A man who didn’t separate his public and personal life but now asks the voters to.

The level of duplicity and hypocrisy that Len Brown has displayed is of a concern for voters. He should step down; a by-election would allow voters to ask themselves if they can accept these traits in a mayor. He may well be re-elected but will have done so in an arena of full disclosure.

A Big Swinging Dick like Brown or second runner up; politically unpalatable Palino, is the last thing that Auckland needs. Where is a women to run the city when you need one? Or someone like that nice gay-friendly Maurice Williamson who may be the only person who could bridge the left/right divide:

It would take a real Space Cowboy to quell the partisan clamor ignited by the outing of Lothario Len by the roguish Cameron Slater (Chaotic Neutral) and freelancer Stephen Cook; Hmmm. Jury’s out on this one but if recent reports of his porn movie plans are true; Character alignment: chaotic evil.)

What we can conclude, is that given the incredible interest over social media of both Weiner and Brown; we are in a new age of media and publishing.

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From Huffington Post:

¬†Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Housewives.

Blogger Jennifer Ball attends a Cabi party.
A contented housewife annoys Ball by confessing to still “just”, being a housewife and being there for her husband and grown children who are living adult lives.

Ball: “Now, as I have stated before, I’m not one to judge a woman by what she does all day. Or so I thought. Because when I overheard one mom, who happens to have two adult children (her youngest is my oldest’s age, 19), reply to that question by saying, “I’m still just a slave to my family!”, I felt something so foreign and cold and icky… no, it wasn’t my ex-husband rubbing up against me…

It was judgment. I heard her say this, and something in me bristled. And a shrew-like voice in my head actually said these words:

WHAT IN THE HELL DO YOU DO ALL DAY???”

This was never spoken out loud”

“(To clarify: I didn’t say this out loud. Thank God.)”

Almost immediately, I felt bad. I felt shameful and regretful and worst of all, I felt mean”.

Yes. Thank the heavens.
Her fellow Anne Klein shod housewives may have roundly kicked Ball, if she’d given voice to this sentiment.

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Housewife Scorned.

Anne Klein Oct13

And American Housewives take house-wiving seriously. Unlike some other nations where house-wiving is an adjunct to a career; to be a housewife in the U.S. is to be a Professional.

But a lifestyle of relative discomfort separates Ball from her compatriots. Ball has had it rough. Her husband turned out to be a loser and she has since scraped from payday to payday to make ends meet for teenage children.
Indigence was a nasty surprise. Her childhood sweetheart dumped her when: “he decided that the co-worker he had started screwing in parking lots after Happy Hour was his soul mate.”

Ouch. And Double Ouch. Ball’s internal monologue continues over the course of the CAbi party:

“That’s when I want to stand up, toss my fork aside and proselytize to these women, to all women who were and are like I once was: comfortable and safe and complacent in their roles as stay-at-home moms. I want to shake them and sit down with them and make sure they have a Plan B. And a Plan C, D, E and yes, even a Plan F. I want them to look at me, and my life, and the shit I’ve slogged through and see that you can Opt in or Opt out or Opt sideways and somehow still find yourself struggling just to make it from paycheck to paycheck.”.

That is a given. After the massive social upheavals of the 70’s through the 90,’s it is imperative that women work on being financially independent even if we remain mostly financially reliant on the Lord and Master. But I think Ball’s inner voice is giving her fellow Moms grief for her own lack of judgement.

I suspect Ball had an easy upbringing. If her parents had a settled, stable life she may have expected just to follow in her parents footsteps

Perhaps she thought a life of ease would be handed to her on a plate.

Life can be a cutthroat exercise. You’ve got to be able to adjust.

Ball is now aware of this:

“Don’t ever make the same mistake I did and put your life in someone else’s hands. And always, always, ALWAYS have a Plan B.”

Some learn this truth earlier than others, One good thing about a tumultuous childhood is that, thereafter, you are deeded Low Rat Cunning in spades.
If the nuclear family  deserts you,  it becomes a given that others are fallible.

You always have a fallback plan. From your early years you learn that a lot of people can’t be fully trusted. This goes along with wariness of others and a constant search for new opportunities.

Just in case. Not necessarily in case of being deserted or bullied. Life can hurl shit sandwiches  at you by way of ill health and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And at the end of the day, no matter how dearly we love them, people have a habit of dying. Whatever the age. The ultimate loss and betrayal.
They may die suddenly, leaving you insanely bereft, or after a long protracted struggle.

Despite thinking the inevitable won’t happen, we are humbled to find we can’t follow them.

So it is imperative and probably unavoidable, that at some stage in our lives, we work on our financial independence but that we also develop an independence of spirit.

So I completely disagree with Ball.

Being a Housewife can be surprisingly satisfying in many areas of the um bedroom. Umm, I mean Life.

Before you can attempt any Herculean task, it is imperative that the home front be orderly.

My advice to others would be:

Mama, if they must be Housewives; Grow your Babies up to be Good and Cunning Housewives:

 

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I know right? Happy Mother’s Day ladies. May you realize your inner beauty and reap the rewards of your self expression despite the continual demands of self sacrifice.

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